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Yellow-billed Magpie

Pica nuttalli

Length: 17 inches Wingspan: 24 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Bright yellow bill, black upperparts and tail, white belly, bold black and white wing pattern obvious in flight

Yellow-billed Magpie - Pica nuttalliThe Yellow-billed Magpie is a close relative of the much more common Black-billed Magpie.  They are similar in appearance, with the only differences being the obvious yellow bill of this species, and, on average, a smaller size for Yellow-billed Magpies.  While Black-billed Magpies can be found across much of western North America, the Yellow-billed Magpie is found only in and around the central valley of California.

Habitat: Found in oak savannahs, riparian areas, and other open and semi-open habitats in central California, including natural habitats that border agricultural land.

Diet: Omnivorous, with the diet dependent upon location and season.  Food items often include insects and other invertebrates, small vertebrates such as small snakes or rodents, eggs and the young of other bird species, carrion, fruits, seeds, berries, and nuts.

Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques, depending upon location and available food items.  Most foraging is done by walking on the ground, however.

Nesting: The nest of a Yellow-billed Magpie is a large dome with a side entrance, built of sticks, and usually lined with softer plant material and mud.  The nest is usually constructed in a tree, high from the ground, and far out from the main trunk.  The female usually lays between 5 and 7 eggs, and she alone incubates them, while the male brings her food.  After the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the young.  The young typically stay with the parents for several weeks after fledging.

Song: Has a variety of calls, often nasal and harsh in tone.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its normal range.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Yellow-billed Magpie sightings

Similar Species: Close in appearance to the Black-billed Magpie.

Conservation Status: They are found in a quite small geographic range, but their populations are generally considered stable.  The IUCN lists the Yellow-billed Magpie as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Audubon - Yellow-billed Magpie

2) BirdLife International - Yellow-billed Magpie

3) WhatBird - Yellow-billed Magpie

Photo Information: Photo taken by Jamie Chavez - February 8th, 2010 - Los Alamos County Park, California - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Yellow-billed Magpie - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Yellow-billed Magpie Photos (coming soon!!)