I’m a quiet person by nature. Quiet, somewhat shy and fairly reserved. I can make polite conversation, but I greatly enjoy an agreeable lull in tete-a-tete with a trusted friend or my spouse. However, on a recent trip to Colorado, I photographed a beautiful, yet extremely vocal bird outside of our condo. I presumed it to be exotic, probably a rare sighting. If only I were a birder…..
I decided to go for a walk downtown and wandered into a beautiful bookstore. I asked the owner about the bird I had seen..what was its name? What kind of bird was it? “Magpie”, he said. “Black-billed Magpie”. “Are you sure?”, I asked. “Yep. Magpie”.
Pica Pica is another name for the Magpie. They are members of the Raven and Jay family. They are social birds, vocal and keep up a regular stream of raucous or querulous calls. Querulous, meaning to complain in an annoyed way. They are loud. They scavenge for food and are not too proud to dine on road kill. But, they are deeply loyal, and when one Magpie dies, a group of up to 40 will circle the sky and cry loudly. “Mea culpa..Mea culpa.” The Magpies will mourn their fallen brother for quite awhile and then move on.
What a voice they seem to have. They are not afraid to speak their mind and really don’t care what the others think. Pica Pica, I think I love you. You have a gregarious personality and you won’t back down when you need to say what’s on your heart. You go, Pica, say it loud and say it proud!
Okay, so here’s the other side of the Black-billed Magpie…The Black-billed Magpie frequently picks ticks from the backs of large mammals, such as deer and moose. The mammals are actually grateful for this service. The magpie eats the ticks or hides some for later use, as members of the Crow and Jay family often do with excess food. Most of the ticks, however, are cached alive and unharmed and may live to reproduce later. Let’s break this down in layman’s terms. Picas are resourceful, not afraid of work, and compassionate toward others (letting unneeded ticks live).
There have been many times in my life when I wish I had spoken up, spoken my truth. There have been many times when I should have but didn’t or could have but wouldn’t. I’m not sure the exact cause of my silence, but in my later years, I’m not as content to stay quiet or not rock the boat. I think Pica Pica is my new muse.