Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Aphelocoma
Species: Aphelocoma californica

Photo by: Parisa Ardekani – Taken at Scatter Creek Wildlife Recreation Area, Rochester, WA


The California Scrub-Jay (A. californica) is a midsize passerine bird averaging at about 87 grams and 28-30 centimeters in length. Making this species between the size of a robin and a crow. This songbird looks for quiet, shrubby, oak woodlands despite its loud, curious, and assertive behavior (Crosbie, Souza, & Ernest, 2011). These birds can be found sitting atop of trees, perching on power lines and posts, feeding from feeders and bathing in backyard birdbaths. A. californica can also be found foraging on the ground and up in trees (Kaufman).

Juvenile -Photo by: Becky Matsubara- Taken in El Sobrante, CA Originally posted to https://www.flickr.com/photos/130819719@N05/18236461088

Most distinguishable by its bright royal blue coloring over most of the body. The scapulars and back are grey-brown, the ventral side and supercilium are white, and the lore and auriculars are dark grey. Everything else (coverts, primaries, secondaries, tail, head) is a brilliant blue. Juvenile plumage is grey on the dorsal side and white on the ventral, with the flight feathers and tail feathers molting first (Curry et al., 2017). The bill, legs, and feet are grey-black.

Formerly known as the Western Scrub-Jay, this species was recently officially split from Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay in 2016 (Curry et al., 2017). These two species can be distinguished by slight differences in coloration. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay is a lighter blue and has a grayer ventral side, whereas the California Scrub-Jay is a brighter blue with a clearly defined blue necklace on the chest and has a white ventral side. The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay call is higher pitched than the California Scrub-Jay as well (Delaney, Zafar, & Wayne, 2008).

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