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Re: Magpies

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  • Dan
    ... years ago during the summer and found 6 - 7 Magpie s dead, tied in a bunch hanging from a tree branch. ... the importance of decomposers in an ecosystem.
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 28, 2006
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      --- 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
    • trevor.herriot@sasktel.sk.ca
      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
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 1, 2006
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        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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