San Luis Obispo County continues to be a hotspot for one of the state’s most distinctive and popular birds — the yellow-billed magpie.
A survey conducted in June by Audubon California volunteers found 293 of the birds in San Luis Obispo County. That number was only exceeded in Sacramento and Yolo counties.
In all, the volunteers counted 3,200 of the birds in 24 counties. Surveys done in the previous two years found similar results.
The yellow-billed magpie is a favorite of bird enthusiasts. It is found only in the Central Valley and coastal ranges of California, making it one of the state’s iconic bird species.
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It is very similar to its more widespread cousin, the black-billed magpie, except for its distinctive bright yellow beak. Ornithologists consider the bird to be an important indicator species of the effects of habitat loss, West Nile virus and pesticide use.