Over my lifetime I’ve seen — and heard! — so many scrub jays and magpies as I grew up in this part of California that I usually pay little attention to them and have never bothered to photograph them. Still, these two birds, both corvids, are intelligent, inquisitive, and mischievous, not to mention noisy. The California scrub jay actually ranges all the way from Washington State to Baja California.
The Yellow-billed Magpie, on the other hand, is found only in Central and Southern California and nowhere else in the world. These strutting black-and-white birds have recently been classified as a near-threatened species due to habitate loss, climate change, and diseases. Between 2004 and 2006, it’s estimated that 50 percent of the entire species died of West Nile Virus. I’ve only recently started spotting them in my neighborhood, so hopefully the Yellow-billed Magpie will make a comeback.