California Scrub Jay – Profile | Facts | Fly | Size | Traits | Call

California Scrub Jay

Western Scrub-Jay, or California Scrub-Jay, scientific name Aphelocoma californica are medium-sized, slender birds with long tails. The Western Scrub-Jay has blue upperparts, a grayish-brown back, and light underparts.

California Scrub-Jay profile

It has a well-defined blue breastband that contrasts with its white breast and throat. A white line simply above every eye divides the blue crown from the darker cheek patches.

This is the “blue jay” of parks, neighborhoods, and riverside woods close to the Pacific Coast. Pairs of California Scrub-Jays are sometimes seen swooping throughout clearings, giving harsh calls, with their long tails flopping in flight.

They readily come to yard bird feeders. Until not too long ago, this jay was thought of as a part of the identical species because of the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay; the 2 have been formally “split” in July 2016.

California Scrub-Jay Overview

The California scrub jay is a species of scrub jay native to western North America. It ranges from southern British Columbia all through California and western Nevada close to Reno to the west of the Sierra Nevada.

The California scrub jay was as soon as lumped with Woodhouse’s scrub-jay and collectively known as the western scrub jay. The group was additionally lumped with the island scrub-jay and the Florida scrub-jay; the taxon was then known as merely scrub jay.

The California scrub jay is nonmigratory and could be present in city areas, the place it will possibly develop into tame and can come to bird feeders. While many refer to clean jays as “blue jays”, the blue jay is a distinct species of bird totally.

Assertive, vocal, and inquisitive. You’ll typically discover scrub jays silhouetted high in timber, on wires, or on posts the place they act as lookouts. In-flight appears underpowered and sluggish, with bouts of fluttering alternating with glides.


Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) could be present in western parts of North America. They inhabit areas from central Texas, to the West Coast of the United States.

They have been discovered as far north as northern Oregon and as far south as dry, southern areas of Mexico. Western scrub-jays typically don’t migrate long distances.

However, they could transfer outdoors of their described range to lowland areas on the sting of their range throughout the winter months.

California Scrub Jay Description

Western scrub-jays have, on average, a size of 29.21 cm from the tip of their beak to the end of their tail. Their average weight is 85 g; though adults can range from 70 to 100 g.

Males are typically bigger than females. Western scrub-jays are brown, grey, white, and blue. They have a comparatively massive bill and a long tail.

These jays have a blue brow streaked with white eyebrows and a mix of grey and black around their eyes. Their breast, sides, and stomach are grey or white and their mantle is brown or black.

On their wings, their major and secondary feathers are blue. Western scrub-jays could be distinguished from related species by their lack of a crest, absence of white of their wings, and their distinctive mixture of a blue head, white breast, and brown back.

The California scrub jay is a medium-sized bird, roughly 27–31 cm (11–12 in) in size (together with its tail), with a 39 cm (15 in) wingspan, and about 80 g (2.eight oz) in weight.

In basic, this species has a blue head, wings, and tail, a gray-brown back, grayish underparts, and white eyebrows. The throat is whitish with a blue necklace. The call or “screech” is described as “harsh and scratchy”.


Look for California Scrub-Jays in open habitats, oak woodlands, and chaparral alongside the West Coast, in addition to in backyards, pastures, and orchards.

Typically, although not all the time, in decrease and drier habitats than Steller’s Jay.

California Scrub Jay Communication

Western scrub-jays talk in quite a lot of methods. If they see a deceased western scrub-jay on the ground, they react by flying from tree to tree and making vocalized screams that rise very quickly and repetitively from low to a high pitch.

This behavior causes different western scrub-jays within the fast space to make the same vocalizations. They even have a selected vocalization for figuring out a possible mate. Western scrub-jays sing to potential mates in a sequence of tones with a gentle pitch.

Likewise, western scrub-jays use a particular call to defend their territory from an intruder. While resting on a branch, they produce a scream, which sounds just like the vocalizations made in response to a deceased conspecific.

They make loud, repetitive screams from low to high pitch whereas elevating their bill within the air and projecting to the intruder. By utilizing their sense of sight and scent, they’re able to differentiate meals of high quality between every seed they encounter.


Omnivorous. Diet varies with season. Eats all kinds of bugs, particularly in summertime, in addition to a couple of spiders and snails. Moth caterpillars make up a serious proportion of the gadgets fed to the younger.

The Winter diet could also be principally acorns and different seeds, nuts, and berries. Also eats some rodents, eggs, and younger of different birds, and small reptiles and amphibians.

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California Scrub Jay Behavior

During the flight, western scrub-jays use repetitive wing-beats that alternate with a gliding flight. They improve the velocity of their wing-beats throughout predator or prey interactions to take care of a selected level of flight within the air.

Western scrub-jays travel by hopping whereas on the ground. Like different jays, these birds are diurnal, social, and relatively vocal. Males defend territories in the course of the breeding season and kind lose hierarchies based mostly on territory high quality.

When a member of this species discovers a lifeless conspecific, they summon different jays to the world by making loud calls. The dying of a conspecific additionally impacts their foraging capability quickly.

California Scrub Jay Intelligence

Recent analysis has prompt that western scrub jays, together with a number of different corvids, are among the many most intelligent of animals. The brain-to-body mass ratio of adult scrub-jays rivals that of chimpanzees and cetaceans, and is dwarfed solely by that of people.

Scrub jays are additionally the one non-primate or non-dolphin proven to plan forward for the longer term (generally known as metacognition), which was beforehand considered a uniquely human trait.

Other research has proven that they will keep in mind areas of over 200 meal caches, in addition to the meal merchandise in every cache and its charge of decay.

To shield their caches from pilfering conspecifics, scrub jays will select areas out of sight of their opponents, or re-cache caches as soon as they’re alone, suggesting that they will have in mind the attitude of others.

California scrub-jays additionally summon others to screech over the body of a lifeless jay, based on a new analysis from the University of California, Davis. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can final for as much as half an hour.

Feeding Behavior

Forages on the ground and in timber, singly or in family items throughout the breeding season, generally in flocks at different seasons. Often harvests acorns and buries them, maybe to retrieve them later.

California Scrub Jay Lifespan/Longevity

The longest recorded lifespan for western scrub-jays within the wild is 15 years and 9 months, whereas the document in captivity is 19 years and eight months.

Research of winter migrants in Monterey County, California accomplished mark-and-recapture research over an interval of 11 years.

They discovered survivorship charges have been high within the first year (65%), however, dropped considerably afterward. Although 13% lived to age 2, only one bird tracked (2% of the pattern) survived till age 5.


A pretty big songbird with lanky dimensions. The tail is long and floppy; the bird typically adopts a hunched-over posture. The bill is straight and stout, with a hook on the tip.


Rich azure blue and grey above, with a clear, pale underside damaged up by a blue necklace. In birds, the color blue is determined by lighting, so California Scrub-Jays may look merely darkish.


3-5, generally 2-7. Usually light green noticed with olive or brown; generally paler grey or green with massive reddish-brown spots. Incubation is by the feminine, about 17-18 days. Male generally feeds feminine throughout incubation.


Fed by each parent. Young depart the nest about 18-22 days after hatching, however are tended to and fed by the adults for at the very least one other month. Typically one brood per year, sometimes two.


Unlike the Florida Scrub-Jay and Mexican Jay, this species breeds in remoted pairs, not cooperative flocks. Pairs usually keep collectively all year on their everlasting territory.

Nest site is in a shrub or tree, normally pretty low, 5-15’ above the ground, however generally higher. Nest (constructed by each sex) is a well-built, thick-walled cup of twigs and grass, lined with rootlets and generally with animal hair.

Conservation Status

Populations of western scrub-jays are at the moment being maintained and the species just isn’t endangered, nonetheless, potential long-term threats to western scrub-jays exist.

For instance, 5,283 western scrub-jays have died in an 18-year interval on account of wind generators. These jays additionally frequent habitats the place populations of people and home cats are dense.

Unfortunately, cats are chargeable for the deaths of billions of birds within the United States each year.

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