10 June 2011

Magpies in Iowa

BLACK-BILLED MAGPIES have been reported in recent years in extreme western Iowa but, as far as I can tell, very little is really known about them (except that they sometimes nest??).  A report from the Armstrong's this spring mentioned a magpie over in Plymouth County.  I went over today to work some magpie-magic and it actually happened to work out.

Their directions were "0.5 mile north of Joy Hollow on Butcher Rd".  Those directions were spot on.  Before we arrived to the exact spot, we saw a magpie in flight headed towards a clump of bushes/trees.  Once we arrived at the spot, we got looks at 2 different magpies at the same time.

Here is a map of the clump that we saw the magpies in:
View BBMA in a larger map

So to reiterate, drive north between 0.5 and 0.6 miles past the Joy Hollow Girl Scout Camp.  You'll pass under some power lines and directly on your right (southeast of the road) is a large clump of bushes/trees.  It was this clump that the magpies were associated with.  These birds weren't exactly bold.  They would stay out of view and remain silent for 5-10 minutes at a time.  Be patient and be sure to listen.

The other species in that clump included:

Bell's Vireo
Blue Grosbeak
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
Field Sparrow
Blue Jay

Here is the BELL'S VIREO:

On our way back east, we found some shorebirds at Dunbar Slough:

Semipalmated Sandpiper (3)
White-rumped Sandpiper (64)

Also a couple of BLACK TERNS were seen north of the boat ramp on B Avenue.

Here are where the shorebirds were:
View 10 June shorb spots in a larger map