Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli)

Yellow-billed Magpie

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Corvidae | [latin] Pica nuttalli | [UK] Yellow-billed Magpie | [FR] Pie a bec jaune | [DE] Gelbschnabel-Elster | [ES] Urraca | [NL] Geelsnavelekster


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Zavattariornis nuttalli
Pica nuttalli NA California

Physical charateristics

Similar to the Black-billed Magpie, but the bill is yellow. At close range shows a crescent of bare yellow skin below the eye.

Listen to the sound of Yellow-billed Magpie

[audio: Magpie.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 55 cm wingspan max.: 65 cm
size min.: 43 cm size max.: 54 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 28 days fledging max.: 30 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America : California


Stream groves, scattered oaks, ranches, farms. Most numerous
in open oak savanna, and in places where riverside groves of oaks, cottonwoods, and sycamores border on open country such as pastures or farmland. Also lives around ranch houses, and sometimes ranges into coastal scrub.


Nests in small colonies. Pair formation may begin in fall, although birds remain in flocks during winter. Main courtship ritual involves male feeding female.
Nest: Both sexes build nest, placing it far out on limb high in tree (usually 40-
60′ above ground). Nest often built on top of mistletoe clump, and even if not, may resemble such a clump from a distance. Nest is bulky domed structure (2-3′ in diameter) with entrance on side, made of sticks and twigs. Interior of nest has base us
ually made of mud, lined with fine plant materials.
Eggs: 5-8, usually 7. Olive-buff, marked with brown or olive. Incubation is by female, about 18 days. Male brings food to incubating female.
Young: Both parents feed young. Time to fledging not well known, but parents may continue to feed young for several weeks after they leave nest. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Diet varies with season, but year-round may average about 30 percent plant material, 70 percent animal material (mainly insects). May feed heavily on acorns in fall and winter, cracking them open by pounding with bill; also eats carrion in winter. Eats m
any grasshoppers in late summer.
When foraging on ground, may use bill to flip over cow dung, wood chips, etc., to look for food. Magpies also steal food from each other and from other animals. Sometimes stores items (such as acorns) in holes in ground, tree crevices.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Yellow-billed Magpie status Least Concern


California oy; chief lyin Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and adjacent low foothills; also in valleys of Coast Ranges from San Francisco Bay to Santa Barbara County. Migration:
Mostly a permanent resident. Rarely wanders away from breeding areas, perhaps most often in winter.

Distribution map

Yellow-billed Magpie distribution range map

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