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8776Re: [Saskbirds] Re: Magpies

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  • William Davenport
    Mar 1, 2006
      Trevor, what is your impression about the more recent trends of crows and
      magpies moving into the larger cities in ever increasing numbers?
      Bill
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <trevor.herriot@...>
      To: <Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: March 1, 2006 11:04 AM
      Subject: Re: [Saskbirds] Re: Magpies


      > Great post, Dan. Even a black and white bird can't be seen in black and
      > white terms, which is the case for almost all creatures that have been
      > given a boost by human enterprise.
      >
      > It is important to remember that, although the Magpie is native to the
      > continent, records indicate that it was absent or at least very rare
      across
      > most of the Northern Great Plains until some time during the first half of
      > the 20th century. (There is a fine article Stuart Houston wrote about the
      > advance of the magpie in a back issue of the Blue Jay.) None of this,
      > however, justifies "magpie control measures" in general. And, it goes
      > without saying, that killing them and displaying the corpses in trees is
      an
      > ugly and hostile act.
      >
      > Yet, there will be situations where it will be tempting to try to reduce
      > their numbers--say in an area where shrikes are nesting? Cowbird control
      > has become essential for the preservation of Kirtland's Warbler, but it
      > requires a constant effort. Even so, that is the kind of "ends justifies
      > the means" solution that it is usually best to avoid if at all possible.
      >
      > We have created the niche for magpies--prairie towns and farm yards.
      > Magpies will be here as long as that niche is available.
      >
      > Trevor H
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > "Dan"
      > <danzaz@sasktel.n
      > et> To
      > Sent by: Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com
      > Saskbirds@yahoogr cc
      > oups.com
      > Subject
      > [Saskbirds] Re: Magpies
      > 02/28/2006 11:16
      > PM
      >
      >
      > Please respond to
      > Saskbirds@yahoogr
      > oups.com
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, Jared Clarke <clarkejared16@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Steve,
      > > I think it is some horrible person. I was at this same area two
      > years ago during the summer and found 6 - 7 Magpie's dead, tied in a
      > bunch hanging from a tree branch.
      > > One of the things I am learning in my ecology class right now is
      > the importance of decomposers in an ecosystem. While magpie's will
      > eat eggs and young of other birds, their role as a scavenger is a very
      > important one. They are a valuable part of the environment.
      > >
      > > Jared
      > >
      > On the one hand, I admire any birds that share winter with us – that
      > includes Black-billed Magpies and House Sparrows. I find magpies and
      > their foraging strategies interesting, especially in winter. I try to
      > band some magpies every year, partly because I can't believe that they
      > are so short-lived compared to jays, crows, and ravens. I hope some
      > day to have a recovery on a bird older than five years, the current
      > longevity record for a wild magpie.
      > I've learned a couple of things in the last few years.
      > The magpies in our yard are homebodies- I see my banded birds on a
      > regular basis.
      > All magpies aren't fiendishly intelligent. Last winter, after I
      > caught the same magpie five times in a row, I took it with me on my
      > way to Kyle and let it go seven miles west of our yard. Upon release,
      > the magpie headed west only until it got its bearings, then it did a
      > 180 and headed directly back towards our place. It might have beat me
      > home, as I caught it again the next morning. When I caught it a
      > seventh time a week later, I released it in the Coteau Hills, south of
      > Elrose, maybe 25 miles from home. Again, once oriented, it headed
      > directly back to our farm.
      > Just this week I retrapped an adult magpie that I'd first banded as
      > an adult in February 2005. It seems to be doing quite well. The
      > banding computer program, Band Manager, asked me again if I was sure
      > about the weight and wing chord, as they were above normal limits for
      > the species.
      > Also, I'm seeing lots of magpies as I look for Snowy Owls; the "B/W
      > Pheasants" here seem to have recovered from the devastation of West
      > Nile in 2004. They show a resilience that is admirable.
      > On the other hand, I've watched magpies clean out a hedgerow of
      > nestling passerines – I think they may be the biggest single threat to
      > nestling Loggerhead Shrikes. And, in 2005, we had two cases of
      > magpies attacking "brancher" Great Horned Owl chicks. In the first
      > incident, my friend watched from his house as a magpie hammered on an
      > owlet while the adult owl tried in vain to chase away the more nimble
      > corvid. Each time the adult owl rushed the magpie, it slipped to the
      > other side of the chick and continued to attack the bloodied owlet
      > (When my friend was able to shoot the magpie, the magpie got hung up
      > on a branch. Within seconds, the adult owl seized the dead magpie,
      > carried it out into a field and ate it). In the second incident, at a
      > different location, I picked up an owlet under its nest tree where it
      > sat in shock with the same puncture wounds in its head as the first
      > owlet had. This second owlet died soon after.
      > Anyway, we're now wondering how many times in the past what we
      > thought was GHOW fratricide was actually execution by magpie.
      > So - magpies – admirable but just a little nasty.
      >
      >
      > >Dan Zazelenchuk
      >
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