Yellow-billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli

The Yellow-billed magpie is a large and beautiful bird. Its long black tail is iridescent and its wing feathers are shades of blue, green and white. The characteristic that makes them so special is their yellow beak. There is a similar and more wide spread species with a black bill. The yellow billed magpie is found only in California.

They are highly intelligent. Once I was out for a walk and I heard one singing in a pine tree. I thought someone had lost a parrot. They are excellent mimics.

Nesting habitat used by the Yellow-pilled magpie

The Yellow-billed magpie nests up high in a tree, usually a valley oak.

Diet of the Yellow-billed magpie

The yellow-billed magpie feeds mainly on animal matter, including insects, bird eggs, nestling, and carrion, They will also eat acorns, seeds, grass, and berries. They will also eat poisoned grains left for killing ground California ground squirrels. Large portions of a population get wiped out.

(When my brother and I were little we used to call them maggot pies, because they ate dead things.)

Range of the Yellow-Billed Magpie

This is a special bird to us, here in California, because it is endemic to this region, that is it is found only here. It inhabits the central valley and coastal valleys of California, preferring open oak woodlands.

Habitat /plant community used by the Yellow-billed Magpie

The Yellow-billed magpie likes open oak woodlands. They like open areas near roads where ether is plenty of road kill to scavenge.

Northern Oak woodland

Central Oak woodland

Niche filled by the yellow billed magpie

The Yellow billed magpie likes open oak woodlands near roads with road kill.

Migration of the Yellow-billed magpie

The yellow-billed magpie is a resident. They move around some in winter in search of food.

How to attract the Yellow-billed magpie to your garden

Magpies are not really at home in a garden setting. They need big open spaces with smatterings of trees. Most gardens are to shrubby and dense for their taste. However you might get one stopping by if you have an oak in your yard. They seem to prefer the valley oak, Quercus lobata This may be because this oak like the lower open valleys just like the magpies. These large stately trees are deciduous and they are good near your home. They let in the much needed sun light in the winter and shade your home in the hot summer.

A Yellow-billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli on a telephone wire watching. His personality comes through. Smarty tail.
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Edited on Feb 16, 2013. Authors:
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