Pica nuttalli


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pica nuttalli
Species Authority: (Audubon, 1837)
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-billed Magpie

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Koenig, W.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened on the basis that it has undergone a moderately rapid population reduction owing to mortality caused by West Nile Virus, which caused a crash in its population from which it now appears to be recovering.
2012 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pica nuttalli is endemic to California, USA, occurring west of the Sierra Nevada mountains (del Hoyo et al. 2009). The species's population, estimated at c.180,000 individuals in 2003, is thought to have been reduced by 49% by 2006 (del Hoyo et al. 2009), owing to the impacts of West Nile Virus. Following a low in 2007-2008, the population now appears to be recovering (W. Koenig in litt. 2012).
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The species's population was estimated at c.180,000 individuals in 2003, but is thought to have been reduced by 49% by 2006 (del Hoyo et al. 2009) owing to West Nile Virus. The population now appears to be in recovery (W. Koenig in litt. 2012), thus the population is placed in the band for 50,000-99,999 mature individuals, which is assumed to equate to c.75,000-150,000 individuals in total.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits oak savanna with large trees scattered among broad expanses of open grassland and pasture (del Hoyo et al. 2009). Over recent decades, it had been increasing in suburban settings, notably in the Sacramento Valley. It forages in cultivated fields and orchards. This omnivorous species feeds on a range of items, including invertebrates, small mammals, bird eggs and nestlings, carrion, food discarded by humans, grains, fruits, nuts and other seeds. Nest-building takes place from December through to March, with egg-laying from March to May (del Hoyo et al. 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The predominant threat to the species is mortality caused by West Nile Virus, which was first documented in California in 2003 (Reisen et al. 2004). This virus caused a crash in the population until 2007-2008, after which some recovery is evident (W. Koenig in litt. 2012). Prior to 2004, the species was locally abundant in some areas, but declining in others owing to urban development on oak savanna, for example in Salinas Valley and areas south of San Francisco (del Hoyo et al. 2009). Habitat is also being lost to agricultural expansion. In addition, the species is susceptible to poisons used for killing ground squirrels (Sciuridae), and is threatened by summer droughts (which reduce the abundance of large insects), as well as the impacts of Sudden Oak Death (del Hoyo et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
This species has been the subject of monitoring through citizen science surveys.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor the species's population trend through regular surveys. Protect areas of suitable habitat.

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Pica nuttalli. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 27 August 2015.
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