Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered


Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli


enlarge +

Yellow-billed Magpie
credit: Walter Siegmund/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Corvidae, Crows, Magpies, Jays view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly black plumage, with a contrasting white belly and white patch on the closed wing. At close range, and in good light, a bluish green sheen can be seen on wings and tail. Note the bright yellow bill and variable area of yellow skin below eye. In flight, outer half of the short, rounded wings is strikingly white. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but has pale (not dark) iris, blackish bill, shorter tail, and duller (not iridescent), browner plumage. It lacks the yellow patch below the eye.

Dimensions Length: 16-18" (41-46 cm)

Habitat Resident, restricted to wooded foothills centered on California's Central Valley. Favors oak savanna and orchards, but also occurs on fringes of urban areas. Threatened by habitat loss and poisoning; poisoned bait put out for ground squirrels is a particular problem.

Observation Tips Not hard to find if you visit suitable habitats within its range.

Range Northwest, California

Voice Calls are varied, but often comprise a rapid series of harsh screeches, similar to those of Blackbilled.

Discussion A Californian endemic, superficially similar to Black-billed, but appreciably smaller and with a striking yellow bill and variable yellow skin below eye. Gregarious, particularly outside breeding season, when it often forages and roosts in sizeable flocks. An opportunistic feeder with an omnivorous diet that includes insects, seeds, fruits, and eggs and nestlings of small birds. Sexes are similar.