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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Yellow-billed Magpie -- Pica nuttalli

RANGE: Resident in California in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, and in valleys of the coast ranges from San Francisco Bay south to Santa Barbara County.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: In farming country, foothills, and valleys, inhabits broken oak woodland interspersed with grasslands or cultivated lands, open riparian woodland, oak savannah, and vacant city lots. Avoids areas with high strong winds, cold snowy winters, and very dry hot summers. Prefers tall trees in a linear arrangement, such as trees bordering streams, parklike groves, or orchards.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tall trees near open water for nesting.

NEST: Believed to mate for life; breeds in small loose colonies, with each pair in a different tree. Prefers tall trees usually about 50 feet. Builds nest near the tree top on a small limb far out from the trunk, sometimes in a mistletoe clump. Occasionally reuses nest, but usually builds a new one each year. Locates nest in sycamore, oak, cottonwood, and digger pine.

FOOD: Consumes a diet of about half insects, especially grasshoppers, but also eats grains, acorns, cultivated and wild fruits, and carrion.

REFERENCES: Goodwin 1976, Kalmbach 1927, Linsdale 1937, Terres 1980, Verbeek 1973, Wilmore 1977.

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