Best Species Discovered by Lewis & Clark of All Time
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Crotalus viridis is a venomous pitviper species native to the western United States, southwestern Canada, and northern Mexico. Currently, two subspecies are recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.
This species commonly grows to more than 100 centimetres (3.3 ft) in length. The maximum recorded size is 151.5 centimetres (4.97 ft) (Klauber, 1937). In Montana, specimens occasionally exceed 120 centimetres (3.9 ft) in length; Klauber (1972) mentioned that the species reaches its maximum size in this region. One of the most characteristic features is the presence of three or more, usually four, internasal scales.
Identification characteristics will vary depending on which subspecies is encountered. Generally, western rattlesnakes are usually lightly colored in hues of brown. Patches of dark brown are often distributed in a dorsal pattern. A color band may be seen at the back of the eye. The western rattlesnake group carries the distinctive triangular-shaped head and pit sensory organs on either side of the head. A key characteristic that can help differentiate a western rattlesnake from other rattlesnakes is the presence of two internasals contacting the
The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) or black-tailed deer is a deer indigenous to western North America, named for its large mule-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer. Unlike its cousin, the white-tailed deer, mule deer are generally more associated with the land west of the Missouri River, and more specifically with the Rocky Mountain region of North America. Mule deer have also been introduced to Argentina.
The most noticeable differences between whitetails and mule deer are the size of their ears, the color of their tails, and the configuration of their antlers. In many cases, body size is also a key difference. The mule deer's tail is black-tipped, whereas the whitetail's is not. Mule deer antlers are bifurcated; in other words, they "fork" as they grow, rather than branching from a single main beam, as is the case with whitetails. Each spring, after mating season, a buck's antlers start to regrow almost immediately after the old antlers are shed. Shedding typically takes place in mid February, with variations occurring by locale. Although capable of running, mule deer often prefer to stot, with all four feet coming
The cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) is a species of freshwater fish in the salmon family of order Salmoniformes. It is one of the many fish species colloquially known as trout. All subspecies of cutthroat trout are sought after gamefish, especially among anglers who enjoy fly fishing.
Several native subspecies of cutthroat are currently listed as threatened, generally due to loss of habitat and introduction of non-native species.
Cutthroat trout are native to western North America. The cutthroat species has evolved through geographic isolation into many subspecies, each native to a different major drainage basin. Native cutthroat species are found along the Pacific Northwest coast, in the Cascade Range, the Great Basin, and throughout the Rocky Mountains. Some coastal populations are anadromous, living primarily in the Pacific Ocean as adults and returning to fresh water from fall through early spring to feed on insects and spawn. Most populations, however, stay in freshwater throughout their lives and are known as non-migratory, stream-resident or riverine populations. Anadromous fish may reach weights of 20 pounds (9 kg), but those fish which remain permanently in
Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale) is a species of evergreen shrub in the Chenopodiaceae family, which is native to the western United States.
Shadscale is a common, often dominant, shrub in the lowest and driest areas of the Great Basin. It prefers sandy, well-drained soils and it is tolerant of moderately saline conditions.
The height of Atriplex confertifolia varies from 1 to 3 feet. Shadscale fruits and leaves provide important winter browse for both domestic livestock and native herbivores. Compared to Fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), shadscale has shorter and wider leaves and the fruit does not have four wings (although it may have two wings in a "V" shape).
Heterodon nasicus, commonly known as the western hog-nosed snake or plains hognose snake, is a harmless colubrid species endemic to North America and northern Mexico. Three subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies described here.
The western hog-nosed snake is a light sandy brown in color, with darker brown or gray blotching. Their coloration is not nearly as variable as that of the eastern hog-nosed snake, Heterodon platirhinos, but they often have an ink-black and white or yellow checker-patterned belly, sometimes accented with orange. They are very stout for their size: a full grown female, 2 feet (61 cm) in total length, is as bulky as a corn snake, 5 feet (153 cm) in total length. Adults are 15-33 inches (38-84 cm) in total length, with females generally being larger than males. A characteristic of all hog-nosed snakes is their upturned snout, which aids in digging in the soil.
Hog-nosed snakes are considered to be "rear-fanged" colubrids, and do not pose any danger to humans. They will generally only bite as a feeding response, rarely in defense. The defensive bite response is usually due to the temporary blindness experienced while
The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is a species of artiodactyl mammal endemic to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, or simply antelope, as it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and fills a similar ecological niche due to convergent evolution. It is the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae. During the Pleistocene period, 12 antilocaprid species existed in North America. About five existed when humans entered North America and all but A. americana are now extinct.
Adult males are 1.3–1.5 m (4 ft 3 in–4 ft 10 in) long from nose to tail, stand 81–104 cm (32–41 in) high at the shoulder, and weigh 40–65 kg (88–140 lb). The females are the same heights as males but weigh 34–48 kg (75–110 lb). The feet have just two hooves, with no dewclaws. The body temperature is 38 °C (100 °F).
Each "horn" of the pronghorn is composed of a slender, laterally flattened blade of bone that grows from the frontal bones of the skull, forming a permanent core. As in the Giraffidae, skin covers the bony cores, but in the pronghorn it develops into
The blue catfish, Ictalurus furcatus, is one of the largest species of North American catfish reaching a length of 165 centimetres (65 in) and a weight of 68 kilograms (150 lb). Blue catfish are distributed primarily in the Mississippi River drainage including the Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas rivers. These large catfish have also been introduced in a number of reservoirs and rivers, notably the Santee Cooper lakes of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie in South Carolina, the James River in Virginia, and Powerton Lake in Pekin, Illinois.
On a Father's Day weekend fishing trip, Saturday, June 18, 2011, Nick Anderson of Greenville, NC reeled in a 143 pound blue catfish. The fish was caught in John Kerr Reservoir, more commonly known as Buggs Island Lake, on the Virginia-North Carolina border. On June 22, 2011, the Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries certified the blue catfish as the state's largest setting a new state record.
On February 7, 2012, a 136 pound blue catfish was caught on a commercial fishing trot line in Lake Moultrie, more commonly known as Santee Cooper Lake, near Cross, South Carolina. It was 56 inches long. The fish is the largest blue catfish ever
The goldeye, Hiodon alosoides, is a species of fish in the mooneye family (Hiodontidae). It occurs from as far down the Mackenzie River as Aklavik in the north to Mississippi in the south, and from Alberta in the west to Ohio south of the Great Lakes, with an isolated population south of James Bay. It is notable for a conspicuous golden iris in the eyes. It prefers turbid slower-moving waters of lakes and rivers, where it feeds on insects, crustaceans, fish, frogs, shrews, and mice. The fish averages less than 1 lb (450 g) or 12 in (30 cm) in length, but can be found up to 2 lbs (900 g) or 16 in (41 cm) in some lakes. It has been reported up to 52 cm in length.
The scientific name means shad-like (alosoides) toothed hyoid (Hiodon, or mooneye family). It is also called Winnipeg goldeye, western goldeye, yellow herring, toothed herring, shad mooneye, la Queche, weepicheesis, or laquaiche aux yeux d’or in French.
The goldeye is considered a good fly-fishing fish, but not popular with most anglers because of its small size.
It is one of 122 new species of animals, birds, fish documented by the Corps of Discovery. Commercial fishing of this species was reported as early as 1876. Its
Grindelia squarrosa (curly-top gumweed or curly-cup gumweed) is a small North American biennial or short-lived perennial plant which grows to a height of 90 cm (appx. 3 ft) and bears yellow flowers from June to September. It was used by Great Plains Tribes as a medicinal herb.
The Gosiute Shoshone name for the plant is mu’-ha-kûm.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), also known as the silvertip bear, the grizzly, or the North American brown bear, is a subspecies of brown bear (Ursus arctos) that generally lives in the uplands of western North America. This subspecies is thought to descend from Ussuri brown bears which crossed to Alaska from eastern Russia 100,000 years ago, though they did not move south until 13,000 years ago.
Except for cubs and females, grizzlies are normally solitary, active animals, but in coastal areas, the grizzly congregates alongside streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds during the salmon spawn. Every other year, females (sows) produce one to four young (commonly two) which are small and weigh only about 500 grams (1 lb). A sow is protective of her offspring and will attack if she thinks she or her cubs are threatened.
The word "grizzly" in its name refers to "grizzled" or gray hairs in its fur, but when naturalist George Ord formally named the bear in 1815, he misunderstood the word as "grisly", to produce its biological Latin specific or subspecific name "horribilis".
Most adult female grizzlies weigh 130–200 kg (290–440 lb), while adult males weigh on average 180–360 kg
Linum lewisii (Linum perenne var. lewisii) (Lewis flax, blue flax or prairie flax) is a perennial plant in the family Linaceae, native to western North America from Alaska south to Baja California, and from the Pacific Coast east to the Mississippi River. It grows on ridges and dry slopes, from sea level in the north up to 3000 m altitude in the south of the species' range.
It is a slender herbaceous plant growing to 90 cm tall, with spirally arranged narrow lanceolate leaves 1–2 cm long. The flowers are pale blue or lavender to white, 1.5–3 cm diameter, with five petals.
Linum lewisii is extremely durable, even aggressive, in favorable conditions, successfully seeding even into established lawns.
The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small light orange-tan fox around the size of a domestic cat found in the western grasslands of North America, such as Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. It also lives in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada, where it was previously extirpated. It is closely related to the kit fox and the two species are sometimes known as subspecies of Vulpes velox because hybrids of the two species occur naturally where their ranges overlap.
The swift fox lives primarily in short-grass prairies and deserts. It became nearly extinct in the 1930s as a result of predator control programs, but was successfully reintroduced later. Currently, the conservation status of the species is considered by the IUCN as Least Concern owing to stable populations elsewhere.
Like most canids, the swift fox is an omnivore, and its diet includes grasses and fruits as well as small mammals, carrion, and insects. In the wild, its lifespan is three to six years, and it breeds once annually, from late December to March, depending on the geographic region. Pups are born anywhere from March to mid-May, and are weaned at six to seven weeks old.
The swift fox is closely related
The Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) is the heaviest bird native to North America and is, on average, the largest extant waterfowl species on earth. It is the North American counterpart and a close relative of the Whooper Swan of Eurasia, and even has been considered the same species by some authorities.
The Trumpeter Swan is the largest extant species of waterfowl. Adults usually measure 138–165 cm (54–65 in) long, though large males can range up to 180 cm (71 in) or more. The weight of adult birds is typically 7–13.6 kg (15–30 lb), with an average weight in males of 11.9 kg (26 lb) and 9.4 kg (21 lb) in females. The wingspan ranges from 185 to 250 cm (73 to 98 in), with the individual wing chords measuring 60–68 cm (24–27 in). The largest known male Trumpeter attained a length of 183 cm (72 in), a wingspan of 3.1 m (10 ft) and a weight of 17.2 kg (38 lb).
The adult Trumpeter Swan is all white in plumage. As with a Whooper Swan, this species has upright posture and a straight neck at all times. The Trumpeter Swan has a large, wedge-shaped black bill that can, in some cases, be minimally lined with salmon-pink coloration around the mouth. The bill measures 10.5–12 cm (4.1–4.7 in)
Lobelia inflata (Indian Tobacco) is a species of Lobelia native to eastern North America, from southeastern Canada (Nova Scotia to southeast Ontario) south through the eastern United States to Alabama and west to Kansas.
It is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant growing to 15–100 centimetres (5.9–39 in) tall, with stems covered in tiny hairs. Its leaves are usually about 8 centimetres (3.1 in) long, and are ovate and toothed. It has violet flowers that are tinted yellow on the inside, and usually appear in mid summer and continue to bloom into fall.
Lobelia inflata has a long use as an entheogenic and emetic substance. The plant was widely used by the Penobscots and was widely used in the New England even before the time of Samuel Thomson who was credited as discovering it. Indian Tobacco, also known as "pukeweed" is still used today. It can be used fresh, or dry.
It is also said that plant material is burned as a natural bug repellent to keep away insects such as mosquitoes.
It contains lobeline.
from its microscopical examination: anomocytic stomata, sclerenchymatous idioblast, very long non-glandular hair with enlarged base and warty cuticle, spherical pollengrain
Euphorbia marginata, snow-on-the-mountain, smoke-on-the-prairie, variegated spurge, whitemargined spurge, is a small shrub in the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family native to parts of temperate North America. It is found from Eastern Canada to California.
The type specimen was collected in Rosebud County, Montana from the area of the Yellowstone River by William Clark during the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Euphorbia marginata plant has grey-green leaves along branches and smaller leaves in terminal whorls with edges trimmed with wide white bands, creating, together with the white flowers, the appearance that gives the plant its common names.
Media related to Euphorbia marginata at Wikimedia Commons
The Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) is a nocturnal bird of the family Caprimulgidae, the nightjars. It is found from British Columbia and southeastern Alberta, through the western United States to northern Mexico. The bird's habitat is dry, open areas with grasses or shrubs, and even stony desert slopes with very little vegetation.
Many northern birds migrate to winter within the breeding range in central and western Mexico, though some remain further north. Remarkably, the Common Poorwill is the only bird known to go into torpor for extended periods (weeks to months). This happens on the southern edge of its range in the United States, where it spends much of the winter inactive, concealed in piles of rocks. This behavior has been reported in California and New Mexico. Such an extended period of torpor is close to a state of hibernation, not known among other birds. It was described definitively by Dr. Edmund Jaeger in 1948 based on a Poorwill he discovered hibernating in the Chuckwalla Mountains of California in 1946.
Jaeger's observations may have been influenced by earlier observations of torpor in the White-throated Swift made by his acquaintance Wilson Hanna, a
Sphaeralcea coccinea (Scarlet Globemallow) is a perennial plant growing 10–30 cm tall from spreading rhizomes with a low habit. They have grayish stems with dense, star-shaped hairs and alternately arranged leaves. The leaf blades are 2–5 cm long, palmately shaped, and deeply cut, with 3–5 main wedge-shaped segments. The undersides of the leaves have gray hairs. The 2-cm-wide flowers are reddish-orange and saucer-shaped, with 5 notched, broad petals, in small terminal clusters. Plants flower from May to October. This species is native to grasslands and prairies of the Great Plains and western regions of northern North America.
The white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii), also known as the prairie hare and the white jack, is a hare found in western North America. Briefly reputed to have been extirpated , it is now clear from observations, roadkilled specimens and historical records that white-tailed jackrabbits are extant in Yellowstone National Park. This animal, like all hares and rabbits, is a member of family Leporidae of order Lagomorpha. This jackrabbit has two described subspecies: L. townsendii townsendii and L. townsendii campanius.
height: 12-15 in.
The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus), is a rodent of the family Sciuridae found in the Great Plains of North America from about the USA-Canada border to the USA-Mexico border. Unlike some other prairie dogs, these animals do not truly hibernate. The black-tailed prairie dog can be seen above ground in midwinter. A black-tailed prairie dog town in Texas was reported to cover 64,000 km (25,000 sq mi) and included 400,000,000 individuals. Prior to habitat destruction, this species was probably the most abundant prairie dog in central North America. This species was one of two described by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the journals and diaries of their expedition.
Black-tailed prairie dogs are generally tan in color, with lighter-colored bellies. Their tails have black tips, from which their name is derived. Adults can weigh from 1.5 to 3 lb (0.68 to 1.4 kg), males are typically heavier than females. Body length is normally from 14 to 17 in (36 to 43 cm), with a 3 to 4 in (7.6 to 10 cm) tail.
The historic range of the black-tailed prairie dog was from southern Saskatchewan to Chihuahua, Mexico, and included portions of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming,
The Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest grouse in North America, where it is known as the Greater Sage-Grouse. Its range is sagebrush country in the western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. A population of smaller birds, known in the U.S. as Gunnison Sage-Grouse, were recently recognized as a separate species. The Mono Basin population of Sage Grouse may also be distinct.
Adults have a long, pointed tail and legs with feathers to the toes. Adult males have a yellow patch over the eye, are grayish on top with a white breast, a dark brown throat and a black belly; two yellowish sacs on the neck are inflated during courtship display. Adult females are mottled gray-brown with a light brown throat and dark belly.
This species is a permanent resident. Some move short distances to lower elevations for winter. These birds forage on the ground. They mainly eat sagebrush, but also insects and other plants. Sage Grouse do not have a muscular crop and are not able to digest hard seeds like other grouse. They nest on the ground under sagebrush or grass patches.
Sage Grouse are notable for their elaborate courtship rituals. Each spring males
The McCown's Longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii) is a small ground-feeding bird from the family Calcariidae, which also contains the longspurs and snow buntings.
These birds have a large cone-shaped bill, a streaked back, a rust-coloured shoulder and a white tail with a dark tip. In breeding plumage, the male has a white throat and underparts, a grey face and nape and a black crown. Other birds have pale underparts, a dark crown and may have some black on the breast. The male's song is a clear warble. The call is a dry rattle.
In winter, they migrate in flocks to prairies and open fields in the southern United States and northern Mexico. They prefer areas with sparser vegetation than those chosen by the Chestnut-collared Longspur. These birds forage on the ground, gathering in flocks outside of the nesting season. They sometimes make short flights in pursuit of flying insects. They mainly eat seeds, also eating insects in summer. Young birds are mainly fed insects. This bird breeds in dry short grass prairies in central Canada, (the Canadian Prairies), and the north central United States. The female lays 3 or 4 eggs in a grass cup nest in a shallow scrape on the ground. The male
Oenothera caespitosa, known commonly as tufted evening primrose and fragrant evening primrose, is a perennial plant of the genus Oenothera native to much of western and central North America. It produces a rosette of lobed or toothed leaves each up to 36 centimeters long around a woody caudex.
There are many subtaxa, referred to as subspecies or varieties.
Oenothera caespitosa grows to 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall. It is good for rock gardens. The flowers are white and become pink in time.
The Mountain Sucker (Catostomus platyrhynchus) is a sucker found throughout western North America.
This is a slender and streamlined sucker, generally olive green to brown above and on the sides, and white to yellowish underneath. There may be a pattern of darker blotches along the sides. Adult males will also have a dark red-orange band over a dark green band on each side, and during breeding season their fins will take on a red-orange shade also. Although the species epithet platyrhynchus means "flat snout", the snout is not actually less round than in other suckers. The mouth is underneath, framed by large and protrusible lips covered with many papillae. The inner margin of the lower lip has two semicircular bare areas, and a cartilaginous plate used for scraping. Just above the 9-rayed pelvic fins there are small protrusions on each side. Length ranges up to 25 cm, with a length under 20 cm typical.
Mountain suckers are primarily herbivorous, feeding mostly on algae and diatoms, but they will eat various aquatic invertebrates as well. They feed by scraping the substrate with their mouths.
While suckerfish in general live in a variety of habitats, the Mountain Sucker tends to
Greasewood, Sarcobatus, is a genus of one or two species of flowering plants. Traditionally it has been treated in the family Chenopodiaceae, but the APG II system, of 2003, places it in the family Sarcobataceae. (For a different species of plant also called Greasewood see also Adenostoma fasciculatum).
The Sarcobatus plants are deciduous shrubs growing to 0.5–3 m tall with spiny branches and succulent leaves, 10–40 mm long and 1–2 mm broad. The leaves are green, in contrast to the grey-green color of most of the other shrubs within its range. The flowers are unisexual and appear from June to August. The species reproduces from seeds and sprouts. The green or tan fruit is small and winged. Small brown seeds are contained inside the fruit.
The Sarcobatus area of distribution is western North America, from southeastern British Columbia and southwest Alberta, Canada south through the drier regions of the United States (east to North Dakota and west Texas, west to central Washington and eastern California) to northern Mexico (Coahuila).
Greasewood is a halophyte, and is commonly found in sunny, flat areas around the margins of playas and in dry stream beds and arroyos. It is replaced
Shepherdia (Buffaloberries also called bullberries) are a genus of small shrubs which have rather bitter tasting berries, native to northern and western North America. They are non-legume nitrogen fixers. The genus has three species:
The fruit are often eaten by bears, which by legend, prefer the berries to maintain fat stores during hibernation. Buffaloberries are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including The Engrailed (recorded from S. canadensis) and Coleophora elaeagnisella.
Buffaloberries are edible for humans. They are quite sour, and afterwards leave the mouth a little dry. A touch of frost will sweeten the berries. The berries can be made into jelly, jam, or syrup, or prepared like cranberry sauce from the forefrost berries. The berry is recognizable by being a dark shade of red, with little white dots on them. They are rough to the touch, and found on both trees and shrubs.
The Bushy-tailed Woodrat, Packrat, or Woodrat (Neotoma cinerea) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It is found in Canada and the United States. Its natural habitats are boreal forests, temperate forests, dry savanna, temperate shrubland, and temperate grassland.
The Bushy-tailed Woodrat is the original "pack rat", the species in which the trading habit is most pronounced. It has a strong preference for shiny objects and will drop whatever it may be carrying in favor of a coin or a spoon.
Bushy-tailed woodrats can be identified by their large, rounded ears, and their long, bushy tails. They are usually brown, peppered with black hairs above with a white underside and feet. The top coloration may vary from buff to almost black. The tail is squirrel-like; bushy, and flattened from base to tip.
These woodrats are good climbers and have sharp claws. They use their long tails for balance while climbing and jumping, and for added warmth.
These rodents are sexually dimorphic, with the average male about 50% larger than the average female.
Adult length: 11 to 18 in (28 to 46 cm), half of which is tail.
Weight: Up to 1.3 lb (590 g).
The bushy-tailed woodrat is the largest and
Channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus, is North America's most numerous catfish species. It is the official fish of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Tennessee, and is informally referred to as a "channel cat". In the United States they are the most fished catfish species with approximately 8 million anglers targeting them per year. The popularity of channel catfish for food has contributed to the rapid growth of aquaculture of this species in the United States.
Channel catfish are native to the Nearctic, being well distributed in lower Canada and the eastern and northern United States, as well as parts of northern Mexico. They have also been introduced into some waters of landlocked Europe and parts of Malaysia and almost many parts of Indonesia. They thrive in small and large rivers, reservoirs, natural lakes, and ponds. Channel "cats" are cavity nesters, meaning they lay their eggs in crevices, hollows, or debris, in order to protect them from swift currents. In Canada, the species is largely, though not exclusively, limited to the Great Lakes watershed from Lake Nipigon southward.
Channel catfish possess very keen senses of smell and taste. At the pits of their nostrils
The Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) is a large North American species of woodpecker which was named for Meriwether Lewis, one of the explorers who surveyed the areas bought by the United States of America during the Louisiana Purchase.
One of the largest species of American woodpeckers, Lewis's Woodpecker can be as large as 10 to 11 inches in length. It is mainly reddish-breasted, blackish-green in color with a black rump. It has a gray collar and upper breast, with a pinkish belly, and a red face. The wings are much broader than those of other woodpeckers, and it flies at a much more sluggish pace with slow, but even flaps similar to those of a crow.
Lewis's Woodpecker is locally common, dwelling mostly in open pine woodlands, and other areas with scattered trees and snags. Unlike other American woodpeckers, it enjoys sitting in the open as opposed to sitting in heavy tree cover. It ranges mostly in the western to central United States, but can winter as far south as the US border with Mexico and summer as far north as Canada.
Lewis's Woodpecker engages in some rather un-woodpecker-like behavior in its gregarious feeding habits. Although it does forage for insects by boring
The Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) is a bird in the crow family that inhabits the western half of North America. It is notable for its domed nests, and for being one of only four North American songbirds whose tail makes up half or more of the total body length (the others being the Yellow-billed Magpie, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and the Fork-tailed Flycatcher).
Externally, The Black-billed Magpie is almost identical with the European Magpie, Pica pica, and is considered conspecific by many sources. The American Ornithologists' Union, however, splits it as a separate species, Pica hudsonia, on the grounds that its mtDNA sequence is closer to that of California's Yellow-billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli, than to the European Magpie. If this view is correct, the Korean subspecies of the European Magpie, Pica pica sericea, should also be considered a separate species.
It appears that after the ancestral magpie spread over Eurasia, the Korean population became isolated, at which point the species crossed the Bering Land Bridge and colonized North America, where the two American magpies then differentiated. Fossil evidence indicates that the ancestral North American magpie had