Originally uploaded by Theorris
Magpies are one of my favorite birds. Sure I like eagles and robins and pine finches and whatnot, but the western magpie is an awesomely cool native bird*. Unlike others, I like their interesting sounds and their propensity to dive-bomb any threat to their nest--cat--dog--human--volkswagen.
I once had a colleague decry the horrible nature of magpies (not you Counterintuitive). I had to restrain myself from laying into her and her rather parochial views of nature.
Apparently you can train magpies to talk, if you are heartless enough to remove them from the wild (which is our suburban/urban/rural environment.)
*The western magpie differs from the eastern magpie (or European magpie, I think.) I am not completely sure that they are native to the western North American continent, but I think they are.
Update: The American Magpie (Pica hudsonia) is indeed an American native. It has been in the West of the United States for around 18,000 years. Somehow two-bits a head seems an awfully weak price for such an ancient and stately bird.