People passionate about nature

Black-billed Magpie

Above: Black-billed Magpie (photo by Peter Taylor)

What Does It Look Like?

Approximately the size of crows, the Black-billed Magpie is a study in black and white, with some irridescent plumage in the wings and long graduated tail.  The white shoulder patches and primary wing feathers are conspicuous when in flight.  The underside is white.  The bill is moderately heavy.

Does It Migrate?

Unlike most blackbird species, the Black-billed Magpie is a year-long resident throughout its western North American range.

Above: Black-billed Magpie in flight (photo by Peter Taylor)

Where Does It Live?

This species can be found from Alaska, Yukon to northwest Ontario, and south to California and through the Great Plains region.  Black-billed Magpies prefer areas near human settlement for nesting (particularly in farm shelterbelts), where nests are built in conferous or deciduous trees, in dense shrubs, on utility poles or in deserted buildings.

Where Can I See It?

The best opportunities to see Black-billed Magpie are in farmyards, feedlots, along shelterbelts and suburban areas.  They may even visit suet feeders in the colder months.

Above: Black-billed Magpie in the snow (photo by Bob Shettler)


Notes on the Black-billed Magpie's status in Manitoba can be found here.

Did You Know?

Black-billed Magpies sometimes pick off and eat ticks from large mammals such as elk, moose, deer,  bison and domestic cows.