A boldly patterned bird of
the western U.S., Black-billed Magpies are conspicuous both in appearance, and
in nesting behavior. With a bold black-and-white plumage pattern and an
extremely long tail, they are unmistakable bird in flight in much of western
North America. As nesting birds, they build massive domed nests that may be more than three feet wide
in diameter. Black-billed Magpies were once commonly kept as cage
birds. They were often the direct targets of farmers and ranchers trying
to eliminate them, and were indirectly affected by poison baits set out for
predators. However, they are now once again common and widespread in much
of western North America.
Habitat: Prefers mixed habitat, avoids unbroken forest or
treeless prairie. Includes rangeland (with trees), farms and farmland,
riparian areas, shelterbelts, and residential areas.
Diet: Omnivorous, feeding on insects,
rodents, eggs and bird young, reptiles, snakes, carrion, seeds, nuts, fruits and
Behavior: Primarily forages by walking along the
Nesting: May through July. The nest of a
Black-billed Magpie is large dome with a side entrance, built of sticks and
twigs, and up to 3 feet in diameter. The female lays betwen 5 and 9 eggs,
and she alone incubates them, while the male brings food to her. After the
eggs hatch, both parents help tend to the young and bring food to them.
The young leave the nest after about 4 weeks.
Migration: Permanent resident throughout its
Yellow-billed Magpie (only found in
International - Black-billed Magpie
Photo Information: August 25th, 2004 -- Near
Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Black-billed Magpie photos.