Yellow-billed Magpie

The Yellow-billed Magpie is one of California’s most striking birds.
Listen to the Yellow-billed Magpie's song

The Yellow-billed Magpie is one of California’s most striking birds. Popular among birders and compelling among conservationists, the bird is a true endemic that lives only in California’s Central Valley and coastal ranges in oak savannah woodlands and other similar habitats. The Yellow-billed Magpie’s range includes the Sacramento and San Joaquin valley floors and foothills, and valleys of Coast Ranges from San Francisco Bay south to Santa Barbara County.

In some areas, the species coexists with dense human settlement, but in other parts of the bird's former range, populations have declined or vanished in apparent response to development of housing or agriculture. For a variety of reasons – including habitat loss, pesticide use, and West Nile Virus – the Yellow-billed Magpie population has found itself at risk in recent years, and it is now an Audubon Watchlist species.

Researchers with Audubon California recently identified the Yellow-billed Magpie as being particularly susceptible to climate change. According to models created with historical climate data, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, and American Breeding Bird Survey, researchers determined that the species could lose as much as 75 percent of its range (a loss that could push it over the brink into extinction) in the next 100 years if we do nothing to address global greenhouse gases. However, if we aggressively cut emissions, Yellow-billed Magpies could lose as little as 9 percent of their range.

Beginning in 2009, Audubon California began a series of statewide surveys of the Yellow-billed Magpie to learn more about its population and breeding. Click on the link at left to learn more.

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