The Yellow-Billed Magpie
A Yellow-Billed Magpie is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Yellow-Billed Magpies. We have also put together a list of fun Yellow-Billed Magpie t-shirts, Yellow-Billed Magpie bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Yellow-Billed Magpies
Yellow-billed Magpie is a resident of the open oak woodlands of California. They are omnivores having plants and animal food of a wide variety. Yellow-billed Magpies peck insects off the backs of deer. They build covered nests during the breeding season and maintain them throughout. The oldest Yellow-Billed Magpie recorded was 9 years, 11 months old.
Description and Identification
Yellow-billed Magpies are birds that are quite identical to their relative’s black-billed magpies. They
can only be distinguished from the difference in the color of their bills. In this case, the range also factors
as a means of differentiating these birds — as no Yellow black-billed Magpies have ever been
sighted outside of California. These birds are large and black-and-white in coloration. They have
a very long tail and an iridescent blue-green pattern on their wings and tail. Yellow-billed Magpies
have yellow circles around their eyes, which are exactly the same in coloration as their bills.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Color Pattern
The average adult has a long blue tail with a yellow bill, hence the name Yellow-billed Magpie. It has white underparts, a blackhead which makes its blue wings with white patched wings stand out. When airborne the wings flash their white as the tail lags behind.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Size
They are a slightly larger breed of songbirds with long blue tails. Females and males have no differences in size with relative measurements of:
- Length 43 – 54 cm
- Weight 150 – 170 g
- Wingspan 61 cm
Yellow-Billed Magpie Behavior
Yellow-billed Magpies are foragers who cluster to roost in one general area with the central roost having the greatest number of birds. The unique behavior shown by the Yellow-billed Magpie is when they engage in funeral-like behavior for their dead. Their movement on the ground is usually a walk or hopping as they forage for grains and acorns.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Food
Like other corvids, Yellow-billed Magpies majorly forage on the ground. These birds walk around till
they spot prey, then they quickly grab it with their bills. They also pick on seeds and grains on the
ground. Yellow-billed magpies also forage while perched on tree branches, sometimes flying out to
catch insects in midair. Although insects are usually their most preferred source of nutrition, these
birds have a vast variety in their food. Moths, grasshoppers, ants, bees, bugs, spiders, and hundreds of butterflies are eaten by Black-billed Magpies. In addition to that, they also eat seeds,
fruits, acorns, and several grains such as oats, wheat, and barley. Yellow-billed Magpies are
intelligent animals that cache food when it is in excess. Their memory only allows them to locate
food items that were hidden recently.
They are omnivores foraging the ground for insects especially grasshoppers. During the winter and fall, they switch to acorns and decaying flesh of dead animals. Yellow-billed Magpies are attracted to slaughtered animals in farms. They sometimes hunt for rodents in the litter and garbage.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Habitat
Yellow-billed Magpies can commonly be found in open oak forests and oak prairies in Central
California. They are comfortable living amongst humans in suburban areas. They are one of many
corvid species that have effortlessly adapted to habitats modified by humans. Common trees that
are included in their habitat are Monterey Pines, Monterey Cypresses, Black cottonwoods,
Western Sycamores, blue oaks, valley oaks, and Fremont cottonwoods.
They frequent open areas with tall, large trees. Mostly the oak savanna, along with water sources like streams. Their main foraging grounds are orchards, open fields, and grasslands.
Range and Migration
Yellow-billed Magpies are birds that are exclusively found only in California. As they are one of the
only birds endemic to California, birdwatchers are delighted to sight them. The area they inhabit in
California is 500 miles from north to south and a little less than 150 miles wide. Unless winters are
unbearably cold, these birds rarely leave their breeding areas.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Lifecycle
Yellow-billed Magpies build their nest in the groove of tall trees along rivers and open areas. The nest is dome-shaped built with sticks and mud. They are not totally monogamous birds with extra-pair copulation is not uncommon. After mating the male protects the female from mating with any other male until she lays her eggs. The female lays 5 to 7 eggs which she incubates for 16 to 18 days. It takes 30 days for the chicks to be able to leave the nest.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Nesting
Most Yellow-billed Magpies are monogamous in nature as they form long-term pairs, but some of
these birds might copulate outside the pair. Males begin courtship by walking around the females
in an upright stance while fluffing up their plumage. To further impress the females, they vocalize
their characteristic call and quiver their wings. Although these birds nest in colonies, the male of a
pair is aggressive towards other males approaching the female. Both males and females
participate in the process of building nests. They gather sticks and twigs to construct a large and
bulky dome-shaped nest with entrances on both sides. These nests have mud bases and are lined
with tiny plant materials. Yellow-billed magpies to lay about 4-7 greenish-blue or olive eggs.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Yellow-Billed Magpies
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Yellow-Billed Magpies are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Yellow-Billed Magpie T-shirts
If you love the Yellow-Billed Magpie you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Yellow-Billed Magpie is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Yellow-Billed Magpie Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Yellow-Billed Magpie. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Yellow-Billed Magpie
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Yellow-Billed Magpie
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.