We have a lot of magpies in Bozeman. They are beautiful birds, but can be a little obnoxious at times.

Many people in the Bozeman area have complained of having issues with magpies. Even though magpies can be troublesome, it's best to stay on their good side. Magpies are not simply skilled, instinctual survivors, they are extremely intelligent.

Studies have shown that magpies can use tools, recognize themselves in a mirror, and they can even remember who did them wrong. They are able to remember faces.

If a magpie is swooping at you and harassing you, it's most likely personal. Magpies can remember faces and hold grudges. Researchers in Brisbane, Australia have found that magpies will remember facial features and target those individuals. The research involved an individual in a mask, coming close enough to nests to make the magpies feel threatened. Different participants walked past in the same mask, and only those wearing the mask would be swooped.

Magpie DNA appears to go all the way back to an identifiable lineage of dinosaurs.
That’s right. Amazing as it sounds, a majority of experts in paleontology say that today’s birds, including the magpie, are genetically related to certain dinosaurs.

Magpies are protected as migratory nongame birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with some provisions for control of depredations on crops, livestock or wildlife when concentrated in sufficient numbers to create a hazard.

These fun facts about magpies are courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in New York State. At the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, scientists, conservationists, engineers, educators, and students all work together to understand birds and other wildlife and to involve the public in scientific discovery. Their web site is at Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

    • Black-billed magpies frequently followed bison-hunting Native Americans and lived on the refuse of their hunts.
    • The magpie makes a very large nest that takes up to 40 days to construct.
    • Like most members of its family the magpie is a predator on nests of other birds.
    • The magpie frequently lands on large mammals, such as deer and moose, to remove ticks from them.
    • Black-billed magpies will flip over cow manure looking for insects.
    • Magpies will steal food from predators, and hoard food when there is excess for up to one or two days.

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