Black-billed Magpie—photos and links

If you landed here to find out more information about magpies after reading the overview article, you’re in the right place.  (Above photo by Aconcagua, from Wikimedia Commons.)

The iridescence on the Black-billed Magpie’s wings and tail is often hard to see in regular light.  But here are a few photos that really show it off:  click here and here.

Magpies are in the corvid family.  As is true for all corvids, they can make a lot of different sounds.  You can hear 2 of the most common vocalizations here.  (Scroll down a bit to “typical voice.”  The first is a chatter-y call; the second, the nasal “mag, mag” call.

I mentioned a fascinating experiment that shows that European Magpies (a close relative of the Black-billed Magpie) appear to have self-awareness and could recognize themselves in a mirror.  You can read a bit more about that study here.  Interestingly, this approach is also used in developmental psychology to determine when a child has developed a bit of a sense of self.  For example, you might put a bright red mark on a toddler’s nose and then put her in front of a mirror.  If she reaches for the mirror, she hasn’t yet got a sense of herself as an entity; if she reaches for her nose, she does a sense of herself.  How cool is that?


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