(Pica hudsonia). Patient Number 23-277, 278, 279, 280.
Date of admission: May 27, 2023.
Reason for admission: Nest disturbance.
The black-billed magpie, also known as the American magpie, is an easily recognizable member of the Corvid family. This species inhabits the western half of North America from coastal Alaska south to New Mexico. Permanent residents of Alberta, magpies do not normally migrate. Magpies can be found across several varying habitats, from open prairies to wooded areas to crowded cities and suburbs. These birds are black and white overall with blue-green iridescent flashes in the wing and tail.
Black-billed magpies have had a long relationship with humans, beginning when early Native Americans hunted bison across the plains of North America. Magpies would follow the hunt, feeding on the discarded scraps of meat.
Magpies are opportunistic omnivores, meaning that they will eat a variety of both vegetable and animal matter. They will feed on many types of insects, seeds, berries, nuts, small rodents, and carrion. Generally, magpies forage for food on the ground, they can be seen walking and hopping from place to place.
A mating pair will typically lay 6-7 eggs and incubation is completed by the female for 16-21 days. The male feeds the female during the egg-laying and incubation period, however, both parents bring food to nestlings once they have hatched. Young leave the nest about 25-29 days after hatching, and will spend approximately 7-14 days on the ground learning to fly. This is one of the most common calls we get in June!
These magpie nestlings were brought into care after their nest fell from a tree, and they were not able to be successfully reunited with their parents. The great news is that they are all clinically healthy, just a little young, so they will remain with us until they are old enough to be on their own, and can safely be returned to the wild. Thank you for supporting their care!