Western scrubjay

Aphelocoma californica subfamily

Corvinae taxonomy

Aphelocoma californica Vigors, 1839, California. Fifteen subspecies. Isolated Florida scrub-jay in peninsular Florida and the island scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis) on Santa Cruz considered separate species.

other common names

English: California jay; French: Geai buissonnier; German: Buschhäher; Spanish: Chara Pecho Rayado.

physical characteristics

10.53-12.09 in (27-31 cm); 2.8 oz (80 g). Upperparts, head, wings, and tail are dark blue; mantle and back are grayish brown. Head features a white "eyebrow" over a dark eye patch. Underparts are variable whitish, buff, and grayish. White throat is outlined with a blue necklace and there is a blue band on the chest. Bill, legs, and feet are blackish.

distribution

Western United States and northwest Mexico.

habitat

Mixed shrubs with trees.

behavior

Ground-feeder never far from cover, usually in pairs or family groups. Frequent loud, chattering calls. Pairs are strongly territorial.

feeding ecology and diet

Primarily acorns and pine seeds, often stored for later use. Also invertebrates, eggs and nestlings, small amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

reproductive biology

Solitary breeder. Lays two to six eggs late March through early May in twig nest lined with plant matter. Incubation 16-19 days; fledging about 18 days.

conservation status

Not threatened; locally common.

significance to humans

Important, if inadvertent role as a planter of trees. ♦

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