Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Utah and Black-Billed Magpies

I'm sorry for the lack of posts, but we went to Utah for five days. Utah is wonderful! Before this week, I thought Utah was just one of those square states where people in the middle live. Other than being Dooce's state, I knew almost nothing about Utah.

Here is cold, grey Oakland, CA. While the rest of the country has a heat wave, Oakland stays cold and damp.

Below is Salt Lake City. What a difference! You can see mountains from a parking lot! SLC is surrounded by mountains.

It gets even better once you're in the mountains. Such clarity!

The sunsets are fantastic.

The clouds are dense. They create shadows.

I saw so many birds in Utah! I saw my first non-captive turkey vulture. And an osprey! Plus, Salt Lake City has a wonderful aviary that is a pleasant contrast to the San Francisco Zoo. None of the birds are tethered, they have large cages with shade and fresh branches, and you can even go inside some of the cages.

My favorite Utah bird is the black-billed magpie. When they fly, all you can see is a black bird with white spots on the wings. At first I thought they were some crazy variant of a crow: a white-spotted crow perhaps?

These pictures are deceptive. The blue backs are not so apparent in person.

These magpies are everywhere! They're as common in Utah as crows are around the Bay area. Magpies can be found on the backs of mammals, eating ticks. It is now a lifelong goal of mine to photograph a magpie on a moose.

They're such curious creatures. I would love to live among magpies.

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