Black-billed Magpie Showing Off That Iridescence

In my view iridescence nearly always enhances a magpie photo but the angle of light has to be just right for it to show up at all.


1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

The iridescent blues and greens only show up on their wings and tail but with that long, flashy tail it can look quite spectacular. Most folks think of magpie colors being limited to black and white so it can be an eye-opener when the photographer is able to pick up a significant amount of iridescence. I photographed this magpie on Antelope Island two years ago this month. I didn’t have enough depth of field to get the right wing as sharp as I like but for me that isn’t an image-killer.

Black-billed Magpies are early nesters, usually beginning nest-building activities on warm days in January and February and (in Utah) laying their only clutch in early to mid-April. For me their nesting activities are usually one of the first harbingers of spring.

And with our scary-warm winter this year they’re probably ahead of schedule.




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