I think last summer was their first season as newlyweds. Being 100 feet away from the birdfeeders didn't hurt; they probably grew up here themselves and wanted to stay in the neighborhood.
Yesterday, I caught them in the garden, in flagrante delicto, and for 45 seconds or so, I was able to tell which was the male and which the female! Alas, the moment escaped the camera, but I think I know what's coming this summer. Clearly the "courtship" is over.
Usually I have a ringside seat from which to watch their efforts. Every once in a while, the view is obstructed.
A half-dozen or so local does and yearlings are recognizable now, but this gentleman is a stranger who wandered through in mid-March, intent on the does, no doubt. It's that time of year.
Setting Up Housekeeping
It was last April when these two Black-billed Magpies picked out our youngish ponderosa pine for their starter home. I guess it didn't occur to me to document the process until construction was well underway. If you are curious about nest-building details, the Watcher has, of course, covered magpie architecture.
All those trips back and forth carrying sticks can really work up an appetite. In April, one year ago today in fact, I buttered the bark of the ash tree out front with a suet dough concoction. It didn't take them long to discover and exploit this new food source.
Finally, about May 21st, the nest was complete. All was quiet well into June. Many more trips were made, bringing food to whomever was sitting. We suspected eggs, but never confirmed by direct observations.
Events continued to unfold, and finally the activity level rose, as did the noise. In mid-July, some grew impatient inside, and began waiting on the doorstep for food to appear. Growing up seems to involve a lot of waiting.
But mom or dad always managed to show up in time.
Kinda makes me glad we planted that tree, a bare-root seedling, back when we moved here ourselves as newlyweds.
Coming Soon: Part 2, A Raucous Summer