February 2nd, 2019
The California Scrub-Jay is a medium-sized bird, approximately 11-12" in length including the tail. The California Scrub-Jay differs outwardly from the Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay by having a bright blue back, pale underparts and sometimes dark distinct breast-band. It's bill is slightly hooked and is dark in color. Some might mistake a Scrub-Jay for a Blue Jay, but they are two completely different bird species altogether.
The California Scrub-Jay is a species of Scrub-Jay native to western North America and ranges in the coastal states of the western U.S., from Washington to California and south to the southern tip of Baja California. They are a non-migratory bird and can be found in urban areas, and often in residential backyards where they can become familiar with bird feeders year round.
Formerly considered part of the Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) complex, the California Scrub-Jay is now considered a different species of bird. It was officially determined to be its own separate species as of 2016 when ornithologists declared them to be different enough from each other to split them up as two separate species altogether. The split resulted in the two species being recognized today as the California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma Californica) and the Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma Woodhouseii).
California Scrub-Jays are omnivorous and their diet is split between winter and summer. Eating mostly seeds in winter such as acorns, nuts, grass seeds, sunflower seeds and berries, and insects in summer such as moths and caterpillars. They will also eat small reptiles, amphibians and eggs from other birds.
According to Joan Morris, Bay Area News Group, California Scrub-Jays are considered "bully birds." Because they are bigger than the average backyard bird, they are confident to use their size when getting first in line at a backyard bird feeder. They are known to be very aggressive when it comes to establishing rights for a food source, as you might even notice them diving at birds that come to close to their established perimeter, verbalizing their anger and dissatisfaction at the same time. They will also team-up with other Scrub-Jays to attack birds that are considerably larger than they are.
If you want to attract Scrub-Jays to your backyard, make sure to mount multiple feeders with a variety of different bird food. This will help Scrub-Jays to get along better with other birds such as dove, sparrows, mockingbirds and finch. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
Both the male and female are involved in selecting, initiating and building a nest. Once eggs are hatched, fledglings are fed by both parents. Once the young leave the nest, the parents take care of them and feed them for about another month or so. Potential nest sites are often well hidden in the foliage of trees, shrubs or vines, usually fairly low, 5-15' above the ground, but sometimes higher. California Scrub-Jays are good at building nests and will take the time to construct a thick-walled cup of twigs and grass, lined with rootlets and sometimes animal hair.
Calls and Songs of a California Scrub-Jay
Songs - Both the male and the female sing melodies of soft
sweet notes. They usually sing in this manner when the pair is in close proximity, and during the
period of time leading up to mating.
Calls - Calls are typically harsher than it's close cousins, and they are not shy when it comes to vocalization. It's call vocabulary can showcase more than 20 separate types of calls which can be a weeping sound, a bell-like shlenk, a quiet kuk exchanged between mates, and loud rasping scolds toward their predators. Listen to the actual sounds of a Scrub-Jay.