Education Magpie Envy

If you live in the eastern portion of the US and have never seen a magpie--Salt Lake City is the place for you.  Those birds are all over the place--they're like crows (not just in family but in commonality).  We have a remnant population up in northern Minnesota but not the sort of numbers you see out west. Since there are so many magpies around, there's unfortunately an opportunity for education magpies.  It's illegal to keep them as pets, but someone always tries and about the time the birds reach sexual maturity, the person doesn't want the imprinted bird any more and they end up in places like Utah's Hogle Zoo.

..who happened to be at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival with an education magpie--so cool!  What a nifty looking bird.  I've worked with all sorts of raptors and a turkey vulture, but never a corvid.  Sigh, I was totally envious.  I would imagine a corvid like a magpie is a challenge in captivity--they are smart, they need enrichment to keep those little brains occupied.  As I was taking photos of this bird it began to mimic my camera shutter.  Here's a video:


Another group doing live bird presentations called Tracy Aviary was there.  When I walked by their display, I did a double take when I saw this bird:

I asked the volunteer what it was for confirmation and she said it was a red-crested turaco. I thought it was a turaco--a bird I've only ever seen in field guides.  Apparently this African species does well in captivity and many people keep them.  It was such an odd moment for me.  I collect international field guides--you never know when you are going to get an unexpected call to go out of the happens a few times a year for me.  I've seen this bird in my African guides and have always wondered how cool it would look like in real life.  Alas, it was in a cage but still a sweet looking bird.  They did use it in a free flight outdoors program so this bird does get around.

Just some cool birds around the fest and I guess I had a little turaco envy as well.