- Aphelocoma californica
Length 27-31 cm (11-13"), wingspan 38-40 cm, weight 70-100 g.
- Large, stout, strong bill
- Long tail, make it appear larger than it is
- Head, wings, and tail blue
- Gray to gray-brown back
- Light gray underparts
- Dusky face mask
- White throat offset by incomplete blue necklace, sharply defined
Currently recognized are 8 subspecies:
- A. c. immanis: extreme southwestern Washington to western Oregon (Willamette Valley)
- A. c. caurina: coastal southwestern Oregon to central California (Trinity, Lake and Napa counties)
- A. c. oocleptica: southcentral Oregon to San Francisco Bay and western Nevada
- A. c. californica: coastal ranges of central California (southern San Mateo to south-western Ventura County)
- A. c. obscura: southwestern California and northern Baja California (south to Todos Santos Bay)
- A. c. cana: arid interior southern California (Eagle Mountain area of Riverside County)
- A. c. cactophila: central Baja California (latitude 29º30' to Bahía Magdalena; sometimes included in A. c. hypoleuca)
- A. c. hypoleuca: the Cape District of Baja California
Occurs in scrub oak, woodlands, and chaparral, but does not breed in low scrub because it needs watch posts; also inhabits suburban gardens.
Like all jays, this species may be secretive and silent around its nest or while perching in a treetop in early morning but is frequently noisy and conspicuous.
Glides in a long, undulating flight.
Omnivorous, eating a wide range of large seeds (particularly acorns and pinyon seeds), large insects and arthropods, eggs and young of other birds, small rodents, and similar.
The clutch consists of 3-6 eggs, spotted on darker, greenish or reddish base, in a twiggy nest well hidden in a tree or dense shrub.
Call: is loud, throaty jayy? or jree?
In flight: a long series of check-check-check notes. There are audible differences in vocalizations between the three groups.
- AOU proposal including a discussion of possible split of the three groups, read August 2009
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.10.1. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
- California Scrub-Jay | Audubon Field Guide
- Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of this species
- Curry, R. L., A. T. Peterson, T. A. Langen, P. Pyle, and M. A. Patten (2020). California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.cowscj1.01
- Marzluff, J. (2020). Western Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/60694 on 20 April 2020).
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) California Scrub Jay. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 18 September 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/California_Scrub_Jay