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Living with Magpies

Black-billed Magpies are in the family Covidae, which also includes the ravens, crows and jays. They are the birds that everyone loves to hate. It seems a contradiction that one of the most intelligent and beautiful of Montana birds has such a bad reputation. Magpies have a long history of conflict with humans and were extensively exterminated in the 1920s and 30s. However, magpie populations have increased, with problems occurring in localized areas where loose colonies have concentrated close to humans.

Since the most important items in their diet seem to be insects and small rodents, they are more beneficial than destructive to agriculture. Magpies have readily adapted to the presence of humans and have taken advantage of the new food sources.

Black-billed Magpie Black-billed Magpie