Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection


Date of this Version

February 1962


The yellow-billed magpie is a little smaller than the American or black-billed magpie, but the difference in size is very slight. The birds look exactly alike, except one has a black beak and the other has a yellow bill and a bit of yellow skin back of the eye.There are concentrated populations in the Los Banos area, Gustine area, and along the course of the Merced River comprising about 19,100 acres. They are occasionally seen in other areas of the County, but only infrequently observed in the southwestern portion of the County. The heaviest populations are in walnut orchards, dairy farms, almond orchards, turkey ranches and areas adjacent to river bottoms.The yellow-billed magpie may represent a dying ancient race. Since scientific interest has been directed toward its habits and distribution, its range has become more restricted. There are reports that 50 or 60 years ago it was common in many places close to the Coast, where the observer would now look for it in vain. It inhabits only the interior of California west of the Sierra Nevada, chiefly in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. It haunts stock ranches, because food to its liking is usually plentiful in such places. When cattle and sheep are butchered the refuse attracts magpies. They gather about any dead animal. They feed on grasshoppers, worms and grubs, and of course always look for a reasonable supply of eggs.