Norway Rats are one of the most destructive creatures known to man. Fortunately, the Province of Alberta is one of the few place in the world that does NOT have any rats. What it does have are Magpies (Pica hudsonia), which some people refer to as Rats with Wings. A member of the crow family, they are scavengers that will eat just about anything. But much can be forgiven of them because they do not come close to being as despicable as a Rat, no matter what the movie Ratatouille might have you think.
Magpies are both beautiful and comical birds with their black and white tuxedo like coat and long iridescent tails. But their raucous voice and irritating habit of harassing me when I walk in the woods – they make me less than thrilled to have them live nearby.
They don’t migrate either. All winter long they leave their little forked foot prints all over the snow – reminders that they are still in town, and will be arriving any moment to scold me for being present in their world.
The Feather Files
Name: Black-billed Magpie
Species: Pica hudsonia
Native to and Migration: Resident, with some regional winter movements
Date Seen: April, 2012
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada