Nesting season has begun for Black-billed Magpies. In fact it’s been going on for some time now.


1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF, not baited, set up or called in

Black-billed Magpies begin nesting activities early so I always start watching for it on unusually warm days soon after the new year. I usually see the first signs of nesting in February but this year it was the last week of January when I first found a magpie pair refurbishing an old nest within this greasewood bush.

Twice since then I’ve watched them rearranging twigs inside and on the periphery of the nest and on one occasion a saw a magpie carry a stick to the nest. One morning they both had muddy bills which is often (though not always) an indication of nest building. This early in the season nest building is only sporadic so I was lucky to catch them at it all three times I was there.

This photo was taken five days ago, on February 10, soon after the magpie took off from the top of the nest bush after rearranging twigs on the side of the nest chamber. This time of year, before things start to green up, the nest setting is never very attractive but I still can’t resist trying for magpie takeoff and flight shots.

This was the best I got that morning. Magpies in flight aren’t easy, in part because of the exposure challenges of a black and white bird. Their predictably uncooperative behavior only adds to the challenge.




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