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Are Magpies Scavengers? 5 Fun Facts about Black-Billed Magpies

Are Magpies Scavengers? 5 Fun Facts about Black-Billed Magpies

The Black-Billed Magpie is a curious bird, often seen in and around towns. They’re fairly used to humans and yes, they do eat out of the trash sometimes. In fact, they are scavengers.

However, that’s not all they eat and not all that they are.

You’ll be surprised to learn these 5 fun facts about black-billed magpies. They’re a great start to any nature journal as well.

If you’ve ever been tempted to get into birding, let’s dive into magpies.

5 Fun Facts about Black-Billed Magpies

Black-billed Magpie standing in the grass.
Standing in the Grass
  1. Magpies are related to crows and ravens.
  2. The European magpies are hated in Hungary because they hurt young partridges.
  3. Magpies build excessively large nests for their size.
  4. Oddly, Magpies catch and store ticks, often alive.
  5. Before colonization, Magpies coexisted with bison to grab ticks from them.

The Black-Billed Magpie in a Nature Journal

Nature Journal entry for Black-Billed Magpie bird with a sketch, text, and a polaroid photo.
Nature Journal Spread for Black-Billed Magpie

As I first began birding, I used photography to help me. I also started with the most common birds around. Thus, this spread on the black-billed magpie.

Here, I chose to journal about the general characteristics, habitat, range, and field notes. On one hand, it helped me remember them because I learn best through writing. On the other hand, it helped me refer back to the basics as I took my nature journal out and about.

For those of you who like scientific names, the Black-Billed Magpie is Pica hudsonia.

General Characteristics:

Iridescent tail of a black-billed magpie bird standing on a rock.
Iridescent Tail of a Black-Billed Magpie
  • Long, iridescent tail that shimmers between green and blue
  • Patches of that same tail iridescence on the wings
  • Black head and bill
  • Distinctive white patches on wings and underbelly

Black-Billed Magpie Habitat:

  • Coniferous areas (places with lots of pines, furs, spruces, and other confiers)
  • Often near streams
  • Likes farms and ranches
  • Adapted to suburban environments as well

Black-Billed Magpie Range:

The black-billed magpie ranges from the western US and Canada up to southeastern Alaska. They also stay year round with little to no migration.


Black-billed magpies are in the Corvidae Family. This also includes crows and ravens.

Black-Billed Magpie taking flight.
Taking Flight