The Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli) is a species of songbird. It is a medium-sized member of the crow family with glossy black and white plumage and a yellow beak. The Yellow-billed Magpie lives only in California where it can be found in dry and warm oak savannah and shady valleys along the Central Valley. It is an omnivorous species: Insects and seeds are its main food, but it also takes carrion, small vertebrates and eggs. The breeding season of the Yellow-billed Magpie starts in April and it takes until the end of June for all chicks to fledge. The birds breed in loose colonies of 3−30 nests and they feed in flocks of several dozens.
John James Audubon was the first person to formally describe the Yellow-billed Magpie. He named it "Corvus nuttalli" to honor the naturalist Thomas Nuttall. Within the genus Pica, the species is closest to the North American Black-billed Magpie (P. hudsonia). Both species share a common ancestor that migrated from Kamtchatka to Alaska some time in the Pleistocene. Black-billed and Yellow-billed Magpie diverged as a result of the glaciation of the Rocky Mountains. The Yellow-billed Magpie became isolated in the warm climate of California and adapted to it. The species' population was hit hard by the outbreak of the West Nile Virus after 1999. It is currently not considered as endangered, but the virus and the degradation of its habitat pose a serious threat to some populations.
References[change | edit source]
- Stuart Butchart, Jonathan Ekstrom: Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli. BirdLife International, www.birdlife.org. Downloaded June 3rd, 2012.
- Walt Koenig, Mark Reynolds: Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli). In: A. Poole: The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca 2009. doi:10.2173/bna.180, downloaded June 4th, 2012.