Pica Nutalli

The Yellow Billed Magpie of California

A Study


Michael P. Garofalo

May 5, 2001



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Pica Nutalli

The Yellow Billed Magpie of California


                       Hidden by the fog -
                                      noisy magpies.

                        Toying with nine ideas like one old cottonwood holds
                                                                                          nine magpies.

                        sizing up
                        Tuscan Butte.

                        Qua-qua, qua!   Qua-qua!
                        Qua-qua, qua!    Qua-qua, qua!  Qua!
                        A magpie love song.

                        Magpies hop and squawk to start our day,
begging for dog food in the feeder tray.

                        The white geese
                        float in flooded rice fields -
                        magpies hop by cowpies.

                        Pecking in the weeds
                        a yellow billed magpie;
                        we pick a cabbage.

                        Letting cars pass by,
                        magpies wait on barbed wire
                        eyeing the red roadkill.

                        a dead cat
                                                       one leg up -
                        magpies          hop closer


                   [Some sketches are based on variations of themes from Wallace Stevens, Issa, and Thoreau.]




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               John James Audubon




   Bird II
    Pica Pica

     A nasal querulous maag? cry
     while in hooping flight
     like mortar shells, knowing
     death is holy and good to eat,
     links homo lupus to Magpie,
     toe back, apposed thumb
     — pollex or passerine
     intelligence the same,
     we live and speak together
     at the side of the road,
     our young also greenish, blotched,
     though magpies
     do not make war.

          -   Howard McCord, Four Birds





The magpies in Picardy
Are more than I can tell.
They flicker down the dusty roads
And cast a magic spell
On the men who march through Picardy,
Through Picardy to hell.

A magpie in Picardy
Told me secret things--
Of the music in white feathers,
And the sunlight that sings
And dances in deep shadows--
He told me with his wings.
-   T.P. Cameron Wilson, 1917, Magpies in Picardy





One for sorrow, two for mirth,
three for a wedding, four for birth.

This popular country proverb was referred to when you saw a specific
number of magpies at one time, e.g., if you saw three magpies then a
wedding would be coming.  References:  B. Haydon, Autobiography,
1853, I.V..  M.A. Denham, Proverbs Relating to Seasons, 1846, #35.
J.A. Simpson, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, 1982, 170.  






Eight-toes teetering
       Sabre unscabbarded,
           Bellying spinnaker

Fast to a fencepost,
       Gape your black bill
           In a squawk clean as kindling!

On, with a smother
        Of saw-toothed wingbeats,
           My piebald jolly-boat!

Surge hull down
        Past the crest of the ridge
          Where the wind breaks, breaks
          All day like foam.

              -    Peter Davidson
                         (A Green Place: Modern Poems, 1982, p. 61)





With solemnity
The magpies are dissecting
A cat's dead body.
-  Richard Wright, Haiku: This Other World, #711





Perhaps it was Maggie, perhaps not.   In solitary moments magpies
will perch on a branch and mutter soft soliloquies of whines and
squeals and chatterings, oblivious to what goes on around them. 
It is one of those things, I suppose, intelligence now and then does,
must in fact now and then do, must think, must play, must imagine,
must talk to itself.  ...  What, finally, intelligence could be for:
finding your way back.
-   Stanley Crawford, A Garlic Testament, p. 86.






References and Links



A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm.    By Stanley Crawford.  New York, Edward Burlingame Books, Harper Collins, 1992.  241 pages.  ISBN: 0060182075.   Chapters 15 is about is growing awareness of the presence of magpies on his farm, and chapter 16 tells a charming story about his raising a baby magpie.






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Spirituality and Concerns of the Soul



Weeds and Weeding

Haiku Poetry: Links and References

Pulling Onions: The Maxims of Gardening
By Michael P. Garofalo

The Essence of Gardening

Working in the Garden

Garden Digest Links

Cliches for Gardeners and Farmers

The History of Gardening Timeline
From Ancient Times to the 20th Century

Short Poems and Haiku by Mike Garofalo


Seeing and Vision

Beauty in the Garden

Seasons and Time


Comments About this Website

Jokes, Riddles and Humor


The Mental and Spiritual Aspects of Gardening
Bibliography and Resources




The Spirit of Gardening




Quotes for Gardeners

Quotes, Sayings, Proverbs, Poetry, Maxims, Quips, Cliches, Adages, Wisdom
A Collection Growing to Over 2,000 Quotes, Arranged by 105 Topics
Many of the Documents Include Recommended Readings and Internet Links.
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo



Distributed on the Internet by Michael P. Garofalo


I Welcome Your Comments, Ideas, Contributions, and Suggestions
E-mail Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California

A Short Biography of Mike Garofalo

Pica Nutalli: A Study:  21K, 5 May 2001, Version 3.3.5.

The Spirit of Gardening

Quotes for Gardeners

Zen Poetry

The History of Gardening Timeline

Haiku Poetry: Links, References, Resources

Birds - Quotations and Poems


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