Song Birds - Sounds Wild


Download Episode: Magpies (MP3 file 3,524 kB)



When Lewis and Clark made their epic exploration of the American west more than 200 years ago, they discovered animals and birds that were not known in the eastern U.S. One of these was the magpie, a corvid - cousin to crows, ravens and jays.

In Alaska, Magpies live in Southcentral and the interior, and west into the Aleutians. They're found in Southeast Alaska in the fall and winter, but in early April these coastal magpies fly inland to British Columbia and the Yukon for the spring and summer to nest and raise their young. They gather sticks and build big, basket-like dome nests - males typically collect the materials and bring them to the females, who do the construction. Nests are used year after year, with annual renovations and repairs. At the end of summer, In September, many return to the coast with their young for the winter.

Opportunistic omnivores, magpies follow predators and scavenge their kills. They land on the backs of cattle, moose, elk and deer and pick off ticks and insects. They forage on the ground for beetles, grasshoppers, worms, and even small rodents.

These intelligent birds form life-time pair bands and can live 15 to 20 years. For SW…