Time For The Black-billed Magpie Nest Building Ballet

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Adult Black-billed Magpie landing with nesting material Adult Black-billed Magpie landing with nesting material – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Since mid-January I have seen Black-billed Magpies in the process of building their nests which is earlier than I have seen them start before. By keeping a respectful distance, using a long lens and utilizing a vehicle as a mobile blind it is possible to photograph Black-billed Magpies building their nests without disrupting the process or negatively impacting their natural behavior.

I always enjoy photographing these black and white corvids even though they are a challenge to expose properly. I haven’t had many good opportunities to photograph the Black-billed Magpies nest building this year because of low light and cloudy skies but the forecast is calling for better weather so my chances of capturing more images of them should increase.

I photographed this Black-billed Magpie in mid-February of last year on Antelope Island State Park as it was bringing a twig in to its nest.

Black-billed Magpies are beautiful, intelligent and during the nest building process they can be as graceful as well trained dancers. I know I am looking forward to photographing and watching the Black-billed Magpie nest building ballet that occurs each spring.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover February 19, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Nice capture — very sharp image. Yes, it does feel like we’re in for an early spring.

  2. Elephant's Child February 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    That twig doesn’t look comfortable.
    But how I love the careful choreography…

  3. Patty Chadwick February 19, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Nest building ballet! What a beautiful, graceful shot! Love it!

  4. Sarah Mayhew February 19, 2016 at 10:19 am


  5. Greg February 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Great job thanks for sharing

  6. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver February 19, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Lovely and inspiring Mia.

  7. Jim Miller February 19, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Your photos never cease to amaze. The detail, framing and exposure are simply perfect. I am in awe.

  8. Bob McPherson February 19, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Gorgeous image, Mia. So technically perfect also.

  9. Roger Burnard February 19, 2016 at 5:57 am

    It’s always a thrill when a shot turns out, and Mia, you nailed this one..
    Looking forward to seeing more of the nest building.. ;-)))

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