Friday, June 30, 2006

Yellow-Billed Magpies Return?
In the mid- 1980's a regional effort to control ground squirrels resulted in the widespread death of those animals that ate the poisoned squirrels, including the Hastings population of the Yellow-billed magpie. (see: Koenig, W. D., and M. D. Reynolds. 1987. Potential poisoning of yellow-billed magpies by compound 1080. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 15:274-276.) Since the early parts of the 20th century, these magpies nested in the same trees, often using the same nest at Hastings for many years. After the great squirrel campaign, and the death of all the Hastings mapgies, the few surviving birds have persisted in a social colony west of Hastings. While installing the robotic camera at Hastings, we noticed a pair of birds constantly present near the water tanks. We were not able to send people up there to check regularly this spring to see if a nest was present. Now, we notice adults feeding young near the office area, just downhill from the water tanks. Last month, we installed a suet feeder on the most westerly wooden post on the fence around the camera installation. If you go to this robot camera, wait a few seconds to get control, go to the preset view called the West Post. Odds are a magpie will be there. Hopeful!