An adult Black-billed Magpie Portrait

Black-billed Magpie PortraitBlack-billed Magpie Portrait – Nikon D810, f13, 1/400, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It isn’t often that I am able to take a Black-billed Magpie portrait so when a magpie flies in close enough to me I will jump at the opportunity.

A bit of background on this image… I was photographing other birds on Antelope Island State Park when this Black-billed Magpie flew in and landed on a sagebrush very close to the stopped vehicle I was sitting in and using as a mobile blind. I knew the magpie wouldn’t stay long so I very quickly adjusted my settings and hoped that I would have enough depth of field to get the whole head and wing of the magpie relatively sharp. I probably should have used f18 instead of f13 because I can see a drop off of sharpness in the wing but I don’t mind that too much.

I liked that the magpie opened its bill, called and showed a tiny strand of spit near the base of the bill. Out of all the magpie images I have taken I believe this is the only one I have taken that has saliva in it. I did some research and found out that some birds do have salivary glands which I guess I never paid attention to until I took this portrait.

Life is good. Birds are fascinating.



  1. Humming bird lover December 31, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Hi! Love the bright black and white! What are you doing taking a photo of me ? It was yelling at you! Great shot opened mouth at that! Hope you have a great New Years Eve day! love mom

  2. Deborah December 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

    “Life is Good and Birds ARE Fascinating!
    Thanks for sharing your fab portrait of this beauty.

  3. Scott Simmons December 30, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Wonderful portrait!

  4. Mia McPherson December 30, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you all for your comments on this image and post. Your comments are much appreciated.

    April I also wish people wouldn’t villanize Black-billed Magpies, they are an important part of the ecosystem.

  5. Don December 30, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Birds with an attitude. …. GREAT shot.

  6. Patty Chadwick December 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Great portrait. I hadn’t realized that their upper bill had so much of a curve toward the tip…these rascals are quite elegant in their tuxedos…

  7. Elephant's Child December 30, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    How I love your portraits.
    And your magpies, so different to ours. Which I also love.

  8. April Olson December 30, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I wish people would not villainize magpies as much as they do, magpies are really amazing birds.

    • Utahbooklover December 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      My cousin grew up on a farm and said he doesn’t like them. And some don’t like crows either. Seems the more intelligent a bird is, the more they are villainized. I love them both and this great portrait too.

  9. Molly December 30, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I love learning about birds and seeing these beautiful images you capture… 🙂

  10. Cindy December 30, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Fascinating to see the saliva strand and for you to capture the moment. I just put peanuts out for the blue jays and magpies and noticed the magpies were a bit more skittish and held back after I closed the door but the jays dived in. They are truly magnificent. Thank you Mia for brightening our day. 🙂

  11. Kathy December 30, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Really amazing what there is to be discovered with your photos. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  12. Bob Mcpherson December 30, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Magnificent photo, Mia.

Comments are closed.