Black-billed Magpie On The Wing – Sideways

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Adult Black-billed Magpie on the wingAdult Black-billed Magpie on the wing – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I went out to Antelope Island State Park on the last day of February and photographed the American Tree Sparrows that I shared here on my blog and photo galleries last week. While I was on the island I also photographed a few Black-billed Magpies that are busy now building their nests, I was very disappointed in almost every one of the images because heat waves and air disturbance made them soft but I did find two images among those that I took that were sharply in focus and both of them were taken immediately after the bird had taken off.

This Black-billed Magpie had been perched on the top of a leafless greasewood when it lifted off from it and flew almost directly towards me with its body and wings turned sideways in flight. I like the dynamic flight pose, the out of focus Great Salt Lake and distant snow-covered mountains in the background plus the catch light in the eye of the bird. I’m waffling on whether I find the out of focus greasewood in the frame okay or just plain distracting, in some ways I feel that this image might be more aesthetically appealing if the greasewood hadn’t been there.

In the interest of full disclosure I want to say that I added a bit of canvas at the top of this frame because the wing tip of the magpie was so close to the edge of the frame originally that the composition felt slightly off and by adding that canvas I feel that it is now more balanced as presented.

I’m glad I didn’t just delete every Black-billed Magpie image I had taken that day in bulk because of the softness issue in the majority of the photos without viewing this one individually on my monitor. I really like the pose.

Life is good.



  1. Walt Anderson March 6, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Spectacular pose!

  2. stephen March 5, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I love the pose too, maggies, crows, ravens and scrub jays are some of my favorite birds. They seem so plentiful, so their beauty, elegance and stature are sometimes overlooked. thanks Mia, this is a great shot

  3. Grace Cohen March 5, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Sweet shot, Mia – not often to see this angle, especially straight on. Right place, right time, right subject … RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER!!

  4. Elephants Child March 5, 2018 at 1:48 pm


  5. Patty Chadwick March 5, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Love these beautiful, very sassy birds! Great shot…really shows those beautiful black outlined white primaries….

  6. Marie Read March 5, 2018 at 8:26 am


  7. Laura Culley March 5, 2018 at 8:17 am

    I’m glad you looked at this one individually, too. What a glorious image!!

  8. Marty K March 5, 2018 at 8:10 am


  9. Bob mcpherson March 5, 2018 at 6:58 am


  10. LSClem March 5, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Nice bank shot!

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