I photographed this Black-billed Magpie at the beginning of the pandemic when I escaped to the open space with a blanket, binoculars, and my camera. It’s not a particularly good photo, but it captures the elegance of a magpie’s flight feathers. I remember the emotional boost I experienced while watching and listening to this bird and the other magpies. They were so raucous that day and I felt honored when several gathered in a tree close to my blanket, squawking and carrying on.
April 1, 2020
Yesterday, I shared some sad magpie news. Today I’m filled with sorrow over that senseless death, but also gratitude for my many magpie sightings, visits, and interactions over the years. They never fail to enchant.
Right now, Zippy’s driving an hour to the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center with an injured magpie. It’s the closest facility that can hopefully help this poor bird that got caught in a neighbor’s mouse glue trap. (I didn’t even know those horrible things existed.) Zippy was out in our backyard when he heard a whole lot of magpies making noise on the other side of the fence. They were gathered around the stuck bird.
Zippy put on gloves to rescue the injured bird. When he put it in a shoebox, the glove was stuck to the magpie. Zippy got glue on his arm and unsuccessfully tried getting it off before leaving. He thinks he’ll need to use gasoline later.
August 15, 2020
Please, if you can spare some good thoughts, send them to the poor magpie. May its feathers be cleansed so that it soars again.
UPDATE: Sad news. They were unable to help the magpie because there was too much glue. They would have had to remove many, many feathers which would mean it couldn’t be released back into the wild. They were, however able to put that beautiful bird out of its misery.
Black-billed Magpie. Aug 22, 2020
If you’re quiet,
you’re not living.
You’ve got to be noisy
~ Mel Brooks
I just spent hours working on a manuscript critique and after hitting SEND, I’m stunned to find myself still in pajamas and robe.
Black-billed Magpie. January 9, 2021
Where oh where did Saturday go?
Yikes, I missed one day of writing and am now suffering an acute case of Lost Momentum. Per my NaNoWriMo goals (45,000 words in 45 days), I need to get a minimum of 1,700 words down today if I’m to remain on schedule.
*sob* That feels like SO. MANY. WORDS.
*deep breath* Here I go, getting started. This is me, starting. One-two-three, write! Come on, Tracy, you can do it!
Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.
*exhale* Even though completing my words feels less likely than the magpie pushing that wheelbarrow, I’m going to write those 1,700 words. Right now. Truly.
Black-billed Magpie in open space. March 31, 2020.
This morning, for the second day in a row, I got up and ran on the trails.
Black-billed Magpies perched on yucca alongside the trail and flew ahead of me as I chugged along, bringing smiles and lifting my spirits.
I’m excited to regain the strength and endurance I’ll need for the many fights ahead on behalf of the people and planet.
Day by day, I’m inching closer to FINALLY understanding my protagonist in my new novel project. That’s the good news. The bad is there’s a very good chance the 4k words I’ve written thus far will end up in the trash and I’ll be back to 0 words. However, I’m feeling more solid and at peace with this newer understanding.
While knotty writing problems sometimes amp up my frustration, they also take my focus and provide a refuge from our current (and future) reality. Hooray for an inner creative life!
August 22, 2020
Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.
Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?
Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020
Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.
They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.
August 15, 2020
And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.
Four Black-billed Magpies. August 15, 2020
We salute you, Rainbow Dash. Pure genius.
Black-billed Magpie. April 1, 2020.
springtime branches budding out
brushstrokes against sky
This photo is from earlier this month during a foray into the open space with my blanket and camera. It was taken from quite a distance and, at the time, I thought I was looking at two magpies. It wasn’t until I downloaded my photos that I realized it was one Black-billed Magpie and one American Robin.
Open space. April 1, 2020.
In the majority of the pictures of these two, the birds face the same direction, as if their heads swiveled in unison. Magpies get a bad rap for aggression, so it’s nice seeing this peaceful coexistence.
April 1, 2020.
A magpie in flight
some things truly black and white
January 3, 2018
I can’t even tell you how I (accidentally) achieved this weird photographic effect, but I can tell you why I’m using this photo from 2018. There’s currently a magpie calling in the tree outside my window, but I don’t want to get out the camera because I can’t bear to subject my eyes to more strain and pain from all the snow glare.
Instead, I offer this old photo that looks like a computer-generated rendering of a Black-billed Magpie.
Just one of the many dashing Black-billed Magpies that came around for the peanuts and suet we put out over the weekend. I cleaned and refilled the bath multiple times as birds splashed to keep clean and stay cool in this horrid heat wave. High-90 degree temperatures are much too high, especially for September.
Hope it was cooler in your neck of the woods!
I wanted to express my magpie love today and went in search of a fun fact about this member of the corvid family. Guess what you call a group of magpies? A parliament.
However, my research didn’t reveal what the parliamentary procedure is for one magpie reuniting with the rest of the gang.
The feeder was full first thing this morning. We had Blue Jays, American Magpies, and a Northern Flicker or two trying to get at the peanuts. However, this scrub jay fussed at them and mostly kept everyone away.
Then, after all that effort, this jay would fly from the feeder to the nearby shrubs to hide the peanuts. I mean, no subterfuge whatsoever. A direct line from feeder to shrubs. I waited for the others to start raiding the peanut cache, but I never saw anyone try it.
Perhaps the other birds took note for later in the season when they’ll need food. If so, I envy them their memories. I had trouble locating my coffee cup this morning.
There are many rhymes about magpies, but none of them is very reliable because they are not the ones that the magpies know themselves.
~ Terry Pratchett
Magpies are a reminder that “dapper” is a good look.
I captured this image just before learning that Maggie Roche died on Saturday, January 21. She was the heart and soul of the singing sister trio, The Roches. I’m so very sad.
Thank you for the many, many hours of musical enjoyment, Maggie. Rest in peace.
Last night Zippy and I celebrated my birthday by going to a dive bar to hear local bands. My logic was that I’d feel less old and obsolete if I hung around the younger generation and heard new-to-me music.
The first band was a punk trio that played song after song in what felt like 45 second bursts of sonic-boom fury. People avoided standing in front of the stage because it was SO loud, and if I hadn’t feared for my long-term hearing, I would’ve been out there pogo-sticking. There’s something invigorating about music you can feel in your spleen.
Back at home where I’m modeling my wrist band that proved I was old enough to consume alcohol. I had to show ID for that sucker!
We stayed for two more bands and had a good time. Earlier in the week when I’d told my brother and his girlfriend our plans, she’d approved of my pre-emptive logic but also warned we’d be the oldest ones there. Well, I’m happy to say that Zippy and I spotted five people in the crowd who were clearly older than us. We high-fived after each sighting.
My plan was a success.
Today was another blue-sky-and-sunshine day, so I invited Zippy for a hike up in the open space. It was blissfully quiet out on the trails.
Another good call on my part.
Me meandering ahead of Zippy. We’d just scared up a Red-tailed Hawk, some magpies, and a flicker that’d been hanging out in a tree together.
So now I’m moving beyond another year and another birthday, and looking forward to any-and-all good stuff up ahead.
We’re in the last few hours of 2015, one of the most difficult years of my life.
But not only am I still standing, I’m still running.
Despite the frigid temperatures (about 30 degrees in the sun),
Zippy and I went for a run around the neighborhood.
Cold yet life-affirming.
And now a friend is coming over to hoop with me.
That will be a warmer yet also life-affirming activity.
This morning some of my favorite kinds of birds showed up
A lovely way to say close out 2015.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a glorious, life-affirming 2016!