Welcome to my 2018 Twelve Days of Photos, where I look at one of the images I chose to include in my best of year selection and talk a bit about it. To see the entire list of images I chose and learn more about my year in photography, please check out my 2018 Best Photos of the Year post. You can also look at all of the images over on my Smugmug Portfolio Site, and I’ve embedded a slideshow at the end of this post. To see a larger version of the image, you can click on it.

Yellow-billed Magpie, Coyote Valley OSP, Santa Clara County, California

We close the Twelve Days of Photos with a favorite bird of mine, again from the Coyote Valley area south of San Jose. The Yellow-billed Magpie is a California specialty bird, with limited range, which makes it on of the birds birders visiting California want to see. Coyote Valley, and the relatively new Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, has become one of the most reliable and easily accessible places to find it. The rest of the country has it’s second cousin, the Black-Billed Magpie.

Magpies are placed in the family Corvidae, which makes them close relatives to Crows, Ravens, Jays and the Clark’s Nutcracker. Birds in this family tend to be fairly smart and cunning, and often a bit of a wise-ass with an attitude, what I lovingly call Avian’s Juvenile Delinquents. They can be pretty fearless, and aren’t afraid to get close and let you know what they’re thinking. They pair off in the spring to nest, and the rest of the year operate in small flocks, and wander widely around a territory looking for interesting things to eat (they aren’t picky) and trouble to get into.

Being black and white birds, they are always a photography challenge to bring out nice detail in the darks without blowing out the whites, so they’re fun to photograph, especially since they’re often willing to get close enough to almost pose, as they curiously try to figure out what you’re up to and if you’re done with that sandwich.

This one was happily wandering up and down the fences bounding the parking lot at Coyote Valley OSP, looking for bugs to eat or other things to poke his beak into, and I was able to get a nice close shot with light that brings out the iridescence colors within the black feathering. It might well be the magpie shot I’ve ever taken, but you can bet it’ll be a while before I decide I can stop trying to improve on it.

With this I end the Twelve Days of Photos, and the end of 2018 as we get ready to usher 2019 in. I for one am happy to see 2018 leave and looking forward to what 2019 brings, and I hope the next year brings you and yours happiness and joy and the satisfaction of living a good life, or at least that fond reaction you get when you realize you really, finally nailed that picture you’ve been chasing.