Smaller than a crow, the Black-billed magpie is a beautiful bird sporting a black bill, head and throat, white shoulder and underparts. Wing coverts and secondaries are green-blue. Primaries flash white when in flight. One explanation for the name is the sound the Magpie makes, but English folklore maintains the 'pie' (pied applied to any bird with contrasting colors and patterns) was named for a damsel named 'Margaret', called 'Mag'. These parasites are known to perch on the backs of cattle picking off ticks and maggots. If domesticated, this remarkable bird will imitate the human voice.
The Black-billed Magpie breeds in Alaska and western Canada, the Western United States and Great Plains.
Calls or song.
The Black-billed Magpie calls, "mag? mag? mag?" or "yak, yak, yak".
Population and distribution.
The magpie lives in open country among brush.
The nest is a neat cup placed among thornes with a double entrance. The Black-billed Magpie lays 6-9 green blochy eggs.