Young black-billed magpies

I saw my first young black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia) on May 24 2016 in a Tatarian honeysuckle bush near Parking Lot 10 of the University of Calgary. One sibling was on his own and the three others were together.

A few days later, on June 4th, I saw youngsters from another family, a couple of blocks away.

Young black-billed magpies are born altricial, with closed eyes and no feathers, and fledge 24-30 days later. They stay near the nest for 3-4 weeks and are fed by their parents for 6-8 weeks. [1]

Black-billed magpies build very large spherical or oblong-spherical nests with two, small, round openings on opposite sides. I’ve seen a lot of magpies and their nests around Edmonton but I haven’t seen any young ones yet. Below are some photos I took last year, in Calgary, of adult magpies and nests. Adult black-billed magpies have black bills and much longer tails.

[1] Trost, Charles H. (1999). Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America:


    • I so glad you enjoyed the wee ones and the flowers! The joys of spring! I saw my first magpie and robin fledglings today. So cute! 🙂

      Do you find magpies gross because they cache dog poop? I’m sort of divided on it being interesting and it being gross. I’ve never seen them doing it so I can just pretend they are all pretty, all the time!

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  1. Very cool. I didn’t know about the nests. We only see them when wed go to the other side of the Cascades, and I’m always happy to watch them with those elegant tails and the handsome plumage. I guess you could think of magpie fledging as being at the same time as lilac fading! Those animal/plant timing associations seem to work better than calendar dates. Thanks for the information!

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  2. Lors de mes différentes virées en Amérique du Nord, j’ai été surpris de croiser si peu de ces oiseaux. Les pies d’Amérique semblent quand même beaucoup moins communes que leurs cousines européennes, les bien-nommées bavardes. Ici, elles sont partout de chez partout ! Après, je suis peut-être tout simplement passé à côté 😉

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    • Salut Seb! Merci pour tous tes super commentaires.

      Les endroits au Canada où j’ai vécu avant l’Alberta n’ont pas de Pies d’Amérique donc je les ai trouvées très remarquable quand j’ai déménagé à cette province. A Calgary et à Edmonton elles sont difficiles a manquer. Très bavardes, surtout en Juillet et Août quand les jeunes ont beaucoup de choses a dire. 😉

      Bonne soirée! 🙂

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  3. I’m working on verbiage for educational kiosks for Mueller State Park in Divide CO. I’m currently gathering information on Magpies. You have a great photo of a Magpie nest that I would like to ask your permission to use on our kiosk. You would receive credit for the photo. Thank you for your time.

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