Birds of America
By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.
PICA NUTTALLII, Aud.
I have conferred on this beautiful bird the name of a most zealous,
learned, and enterprising naturalist, my friend THOMAS NUTTALL, Esq., to whom
the scientific world is deeply, indebted for the many additions to our
zoological and botanical knowledge which have resulted from his labours. It is
to him alone that we owe all that is known respecting the present species, which
has not hitherto been portrayed. In a note inserted by him in my journal, he
"As we proceed to the south in Upper California, around the village of Sta.
Barbara, we find the Common Magpie substituted by this remarkable species, which
is much more shy and cautious, as well as more strictly insectivorous. It
utters, however, nearly if not quite the same chatter. In the month of April
they were everywhere mated, and had nearly completed their nests in the
evergreen oaks of the vicinity (Quercus agrifolia). The only one I saw was
situated on a rather high tree, towards the summit, and much concealed among the
thick and dark branches, Their call was pait, pait; and on approaching each
other, a low congratulatory chatter was heard. After being fired at once, it
seemed nearly impossible again to approach them within gun-shot. When alighted
in the thick oaks, they remained for a considerable time silent, and
occasionally even wholly hid themselves; but after awhile the call of
recognition was again renewed, and if the pair then met, they would often fly
off a mile or more, without stopping, in quest of insects. We often saw them on
the ground, but never near the offal of the oxen, so attractive to the Crows and
CORVUS NUTTALL, Yellow-billed Magpie, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. iv. p. 450.
Bill and bare space beneath the eyes yellow; in form, proportion, and size,
similar to the Common Magpie; the feathers of the tail narrower; the colours
similar, but the top of the head glossed with green, and the black of the back
and fore neck tinged with brown.
Male, 18; wing, 7 3/4.
Upper California. Common. Resident