Black-Billed Magpie| Bird Creek at Chugach State Park
I’ve decided to write up posts from Alaska in whatever order I feel like. It felt limiting to try to process photos in order and write them in sequence and so I’ll be sharing as I find inspiration.
My first inspiration was from our last day in Alaska and finally getting some good photos of a black-billed magpie. I know my Mountain West readers are like “Um, Misti, these are super common over here!” and to that I’d reply that we don’t have them in Texas! Range maps look like a straggler or two might show up in the far north of the Texas Panhandle but that’s about it. I do recall seeing them when I’ve visited Colorado and Montana but honestly, I’d kind of forgotten about them.
Even in Alaska they weren’t super common but we did see them a few times. Mostly Chris seemed to be noticing them and I finally caught glimpses of a couple. On our last day in Alaska we spent the day around the Turnagain Arm area and the southern end of the Chugach State Park, poking around the trails there.
We’d stopped at the Bird Creek trail, finding it terribly steep, eroded, and not well marked and managed to find a way to ditch off to a bike trail that paralleled the road to gain some access to the creek. The creek itself was very muddy and we opted not to get completely messy before our flight left Anchorage, and instead we just peered out into the creek for a few minutes from the bike path.
Chris noticed the magpie and I stealthily followed it around from the metal staircase that led down to the creek. The colors of the bird are gorgeous, something you might not glimpse as they are flying away, but up close those blues, greens, and tinges of purples really stand out. This particular bird was picking on the bones of a dead fish while I watched it and then hopped over to the bushes to see what else it could scarf over there.
I’ve always loved the corvid family, the jays in particular of course, but I enjoy listening to the sound of crows cawing when I’m out in the yard or in an ’empty’ forest out on the trail. I wouldn’t be upset if the magpies decided to extend their range into Texas so I could see them more often!
What an absolutely beautiful bird! I’ve only seen photos of black and white ones, and those in Europe. Lucky you, to have the chance to see and photograph this one.