Well back in Wales again very jetlagged and trying hard to get myself down off the high of being in such a marvellous place as Alberta, Canada. Gazing out into our rampant garden (the rain has caused considerable growth) this morning my attention was drawn to a Magpie flying past. This species is so familiar to us that we hardly comment unless they are trying to find the nests of our garden birds. The reason for mentioning this is because we have also been very familiar with magpies around my son's garden in Calgary.
Magpie Pica pica
The Magpie in my Welsh garden is of course Pica pica and very familiar to us all. In Canada the Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonicus was for many year considered the same as Pica pica even though its range is in Western North America which means there is a huge distance between the two populations and they probably have never met.
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonicus
Obviously there must be genetic differences detected by scientists perhaps using DNA which prove the two populations are separate species but I can discern little in the field to tell the difference. Sometimes I think the American bird has a shorter tail but I am sure that may be my eyesight. What is definite is the call of the American bird is much different to ours. Their main call is higher pitched and shriller, so different you would think it was from some other species.