This is a bird that I've always wanted to see! It's a Magpie! The Black-billed Magpie is so common in Nevada that my friends couldn't believe I would bother to take it's picture. Are they kidding? These are Corvids, which means they are very smart birds like their relatives the jays and the crows. Magpies are also gorgeous at rest and in flight. There were half a dozen magpies hanging around a flock of mule deer. It possible they were with the deer because they like to eat ticks off of livestock and other large animals. Wouldn't that be a nice species to have around here in Lyme disease country?
The Common Raven is a corvid, also. Ravens are few and far between in Framingham, but they are everywhere out west! You hear their loud croaking wherever you go! This magnificent fellow and his mate were cleaning up a picnic area in Yosemite National Park. Ravens are the very smartest birds found on planet Earth. They solve multi-step problems and even enjoy puzzles and games. And they are simply MASSIVE, which is something you can't tell from a picture. An all around cool bird!
Here's something you definitely won't see in Massachusetts: a California Quail. Actually, we saw these birds in Nevada rather than in California, but they are all over the west coast. This photo was taken in my friend's backyard! Wouldn't you like to see that when you glanced out the window of your house?
These male and female California Quails were walking down the side of the street like they owned it. In fact, these photos were taken from inside of a car. I think they are tremendously regal-looking with their fancy headdresses and all.
Believe it or not, I think this rather plain little bird was the highlight of the trip for Pete. It's a Black Phoebe, and my son was a bit disappointed when I failed to become feverishly exited upon seeing him. It's a life-lister for me, but my true passion is for big and dramatic birds. We saw an Anna's Hummingbird in Pacifica, California that was simply breathtaking (and way too fast to capture with a camera.) Yet even that glorious little bird didn't excite me as much as the pelicans did. Sad, but true!
I've barely made a dent in the list of western species that we saw on our trip, so I'll have to finish up in a later post. In the meantime, I'll put together a list of birds that are equally at home on either coast - and that is a long list, too!