Living Bird Magazine
Yellow-billed MagpiePica nuttalli
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Corvidae
A boisterous bird that lives in California and nowhere else, the Yellow-billed Magpie is a riot of black, white, shimmering blue-green, and yellow. It lives in open oak woodlands of the Central Valley, the Coast Ranges, and the Sierra Nevada foothills. This magpie is gregarious throughout the year, even when nesting: dozens of pairs sometimes nest close to each other. This species has been hit hard by habitat loss and West Nile virus, and is on the Partners in Flight Yellow Watch List for species with restricted ranges.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Yellow-billed Magpies are fairly common and conspicuous over much of central California, from Redding south to Santa Barbara, and most common in the Central Valley where oak woodlands intermingle with plains, orchards, or agricultural fields. Watch for the black-and-white patterning of these conspicuous birds while driving county roads, and even on rural portions of Interstate 5, in the center of the state.
- Urraca de Nuttall (Spanish)
- Pie à bec jaune (French)
- Cool Facts
- In 1837, John James Audubon named Yellow-billed Magpie “Corvus nutalli” in honor of fellow naturalist Thomas Nuttall, who collected early specimens near Santa Barbara, California.
- Yellow-billed Magpies have been seen pecking insects off the backs of mule deer.
- The Yellow-billed Magpie makes a domelike, covered nest that requires maintenance throughout the nesting season. Pairs usually build a new nest each year, but late in the breeding season they may refurbish an old nest rather than build a new one.
- The oldest recorded Yellow-billed Magpie was a female at least 9 years, 11 months old when she was found in California.