Western Scrub-jay

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image: westernscrubjay.jpg

Common Name: Western Scrub-Jay

Scientific Name: Aphelocoma californica

Size: 11-12 inches (28-30cm)

Habitat: North America; California, Baja California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Throughout much of the western lowlands, especially in areas with oaks and pinyon pines.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 3,400,000 Mature individuals. Common, populations may be increasing. The isolated subspecies found only in the Eagle Mountains of southeastern California is potentially vulnerable to disturbance, and is listed as a species of special concern in California.

Diet: Acorns, nuts, seed and insects.

Breeding: Two to six eggs are laid in open cup style nest in shrub, vine or low tree.

Cool Facts: Scrub-Jays are very intelligent. Often getting humans to do their biding. In one account, a pair of scrub-jays directed a homeowner across a yard to scare off a cat in a tree close to their nest.

Scrub-Jays have been used in laboratory studies of its ability to hide and remember seeds. Jays that had stolen the caches of other jays noticed if other jays were watching them hide food. If they had been observed, they would dig up and hide their food again. Jays that had never stolen food did not pay any attention to whether other jays were watching them hide their food. Scrub-jay have formed a symbiotic relationship with mule deer. They hop over the body and head of the deer to eat parasites. The deer often help the jays by standing still and holding their ears up.

Scrub-Jays in areas where acorns are abundant have deep, stout, slightly hooked bills while those in areas with lots of pinyon pine have long, shallow, pointed bills. This evolutionary change has created the right bill for the right food source.


Found in Songbird Remix Cool and Unusual Birds

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