Magpie preferences


Magpies are smart. Indeed, the Eurasian Magpie, a species virtually indistinguishable from our own Black-billed Magpie, is the only bird to have ever passed the mirror test, a self-awareness test whereby it is seen whether an animal is able to recognize its mirror image as being a representation of itself. 

While rare in the West Kootenay, magpies are common in the Okanagan. 

In what might be considered a touristic promoter’s dream, one might take this to imply that really smart birds prefer the area around Okanagan Lake to that around Kootenay Lake. Alas, the magpie has a bias towards open habitats with occasional trees rather than forests. Humans have more cosmopolitan tastes and some prefer forested landscapes.

So, Kootenay Lake gets the odd magpie, but only in those few regions where open farmlands prevail. 

I took this picture a while ago and reserved it until I needed to illustrate the forested nature of the lakeshore. It is now appropriate: most of Kootenay Lake is just not hospitable to magpies.

A few spots (at each end of the Main Lake and the region around Harrop and Procter) have the adequately open country that magpies favour. This magpie was observed in Harrop. I had thought of the magpie as essentially black and white until I took this picture and saw the colour in its plumage.

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2 Responses to Magpie preferences

  1. wendy scott says:

    Ah — very similar to the Magpie-Jay observed at La Laguna de Santa Marie del Oro in Mexico. Impressive bird, and I think he knows it!
    I had no idea they could be observed in the Harrop Proctor area — thanks Alistair — another reason to take that little ferry and re-cross Kootenay Lake.

  2. Anita T says:

    When my partner & I went to the prairies and stayed in our camperized bus, we had the magpies bouncing on our roof, calling out our cats to play! We traveled with our 5 Siamese, and let me tell you, the Magpies tortured them each and every day and in every way. I have a pic of one of them loosing a mouse to the bird, and getting his tail bitten as well. I so miss them occasionally, but the Stellar Jays make up for them.

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