Blue and Black Magpie follows me on the trail


This magpie was my buddy at my BudBurst site on Apex trail in Jefferson County earlier

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this week. It and two others have been calling back and forth to each other for a couple of weeks, but this time, one of the magpies stayed with me as I made my way up the trail and inspected the ponderosa pine that I’ve been monitoring.
Most of the time magpies are described as black and white, but as you see on this beautiful bird, they look blue in some light. This color change is not due to a pigment, but instead due to the way the feathers are built.

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Many feathers are built to act like tiny prisms. Light come in one side of an organelle in a feather, and bounces off the back of it. As the angle of the light changes, so does the color of the feather. This is true of the feathers of peacocks, ducks, hummingbirds, some fish, butterflies, and other insects, and some minerals or oil slicks. Most interestingly, scientists have recently found that some dinosaurs also were black changing to iridescent blue – just like my friend the magpie.Image

About coloradogeography

Amy Law is a second-generation Coloradoan with a passion for her native state. This translated into a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Colorado State University, and continues as a lifelong fascination with how people and nature interact. From family vacations in the station wagon to travel for work, she's covered the state, and everywhere she goes, she finds new things to see and ideas to explore.
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One Response to Blue and Black Magpie follows me on the trail

  1. Pingback: Hummer colors | Colorado Geography In Depth and At Altitude

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