• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

California Scrub Jay - BirdForum Opus

A. californica californica
Photo © by Leslie
Westlake Village, Ventura Co., California, USA, 14 February 2004
Aphelocoma californica


A. californica, juvenile
Photo © by ducbucln
Kelseyville, California, 18 August 2014

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


Occurs in the lowlands and foothills of the Coast Ranges, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada (USA), including Baja California (Mexico).


Island Scrub Jay, Florida Scrub Jay and Woodhouse's Scrub Jay were formerly considered conspecific.


A. californica oocleptica in flight
Photo © by digishooter
Wofford Heights: Kern County, California, USA, 7 June 2014

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.




  1. AOU proposal including a discussion of possible split of the three groups, read August 2009
  2. 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/
  3. 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/
  4. California Scrub-Jay | Audubon Field Guide
  5. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of this species
  6. 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
  7. 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).

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1