Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black-billed Magpie and American Crow

A quick literature review reveals that American Crows and Black-billed Magpies are basically omnivorous—they will eat almost anything they can get their beaks around.  In this photo, taken several years ago, these two corvids are consuming French fries dropped on the road at a Montana rest stop.

When Lewis and Clark first discovered magpies, the birds followed bison herds and fed on refuse left by Native American hunters. The magpies stole meat from the explorers’ tents. Today magpies and crows eat carrion, small mammals and birds, reptiles, a wide variety of invertebrates, and fruit and grains. Although French fries are not specifically mentioned in the literature, both species are not above consuming discarded human food (Trost 1999, Verbeek and Caffrey 2002).

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