Day 87 — A Magpie Mind

“I have a magpie mind. I like anything that glitters.” — Lord Thomson of Fleet

The sun was out today, more than it was behind clouds. I decided it was a good day to go up to the park where I haven’t been to check on the magpies in 5 years, ever since they decided to build the high school behind the park and remove many of the magpies’ nesting trees, majestic valley oak trees that were in the way of “progress.” In 2006, I was a Magpie Monitor for a study UC Davis was conducting on the effects of West Nile Virus on the Yellow Billed Magpie, a bird that lives in the Central Valley of California and no other place on Earth. That spring I followed seven nests and counted 23 surviving chicks.

Today, I was happy to find there were a few pairs of magpies still able to nest in the park, although there are now fewer oaks and those that remain are succumbing to age, weather, and “progress.” I heard the magpies first, and followed the chatter. I watched a group of three (prior year nestlings often hang around for a year or more) as they flew from oak to oak. I never identified their nest site but saw that the oaks held several of the huge stick nests that the magpies refurbish every year.

I liked this photo because the one magpie had just spread his wings to take flight. The next bird down was moving up to the top to follow the first, so he’s a bit out of focus. The colors are fairly accurate because the oaks are just starting to leaf out and they look more yellow than green.

Lens at 200mm
ISO 200