scrubjayrrr11

Ramrod Ranch, Monterey, California 2014

The “blue jay” of dry Western lowlands, the Western Scrub-Jay combines deep azure blue with dusty gray-brown and white. The rounded, crestless head immediately sets it apart from Blue Jays and Steller’s Jays. These birds are a fixture of dry shrublands, oak woodlands, and pinyon pine-juniper forests, as well as conspicuous visitors to backyards.

Size & Shape
A lanky bird with long, floppy tail and an often hunched-over posture.

Color Pattern
Blue and gray above, with a pale underside broken up by a blue necklace. In birds, the color blue depends on lighting, so Western Scrub-Jays often look simply dark.

Behavior
Assertive, vocal, and inquisitive. You’ll often notice scrub-jays silhouetted high in trees, on wires, or on posts where they act as lookouts. In flight seems underpowered and slow, with bouts of fluttering alternating with glides.

Habitat
Look for Western Scrub-Jays in open habitats of the West: oak woodlands and chaparral near the coast and pinyon-juniper woodlands of the interior West; also backyards, pastures, and orchards. Typically, though not always, in lower and drier habitats than Steller’s Jay.

Cool Facts

  • Look closely, and you'll see an intriguing difference between the California Scrub-Jay and its close relative, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay. The bill of a California Scrub-Jay is stout and hooked, giving it extra power and grip as the birds hammer open acorns in their oak woodland habitats. By comparison, Woodhouse's have thinner, more pointed bills that nimbly reach deep into pinyon pine cones to pull out the pine nuts inside.
  • The Western Scrub-Jay’s calls are a hallmark sound of the open West. Some 20 call types are known, and perhaps the best description comes from naturalist W. L. Dawson in 1923: “No masquerader at Mardi Gras has sprung such a cacophonic device upon a quiveringly expectant public. Dzweep, dzweep: it curdles the blood, as it is meant to do.”
  • California Scrub-Jays—like many members of the crow and jay family—have a mischievous streak. They’ve been caught stealing acorns from Acorn Woodpecker caches, and some even steal acorns they’ve watched other jays hide. When these birds go to hide their own acorns, they check first that no other jays are watching.
  • You might see California Scrub-Jays standing on the back of a mule deer. They’re eating ticks and other parasites. The deer seem to appreciate the help, often standing still and holding up their ears to give the jays access.
  • The oldest known California Scrub-Jay lived to be at least 15 years, 9 months old. It was banded in California in 1932 and found in 1948 in the same state.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Scrub-Jay/id

westernscrubjaymap

Range Map

Contact zScapes

Copyright © 1990-2018 zScapes. All rights reserved