Thursday, September 20, 2012

Black and White and Dead All Over

I understand that magpies eat roadkill. But around here, it's usually prairie dogs. When I see magpies pecking at the remains of a skunk, I keep thinking that either they're really desperate (really hungry) or they have absolutely no sense of smell.

For the uninitiated, magpies look kind of like crows wearing tuxedos.

When I lived back east and came out west on vacation, I saw a black and white bird flying against a deep blue sky. I remember thinking, "Oh, how exotic! How beautiful!" Then at the first opportunity (a National Park bookstore) I looked in a bird guidebook and found out it was a magpie and part of the crow family and considered filthy.

They're extremely common here, so I don't think of them as exotic anymore, but they are still beautiful. Except maybe when they're picking at the carcass of a skunk. And for some reason this time of year we always have an abundance of dead skunks ("in the middle of the road, stinking to high heaven" to quote that old song).

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