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


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.

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

Published by Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...

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