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Woodhouse's Scrub Jay - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Sumichrast's Scrub Jay (sumichrasti group)

Photo © by fbello
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, August 2005
Aphelocoma woodhouseii


Length 27-31 cm (11-13"), wingspan 38-40 cm, weight 70-100 g.

  • Large, strong bill (slenderer than California Scrub Jay)
  • 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 (diffusely defined)
  • sumichrasti and remota are larger, have bluer backs, whiter throats and a hooked bill

Similar species

compared to California Scrub Jay, Woodhouse's shows less contrasting breast band, much less contrast between color of underside and mantle, and thinner bill without hook near the tip .


Occurs in the Great Basin and the southern Rocky Mountains in the USA, and the Sierra Madre chains in northern Mexico.


Island Scrub Jay, Florida Scrub Jay and California Scrub Jay were formerly considered conspecific.


Seven subspecies in two groups recognized:

  • Woodhouses's Scrub Jay:
  • A. w. nevadae: southeastern Oregon south through Great Basin to northeastern Sonora and northwestern Chihuahua
  • A. w. woodhouseii: from the Rocky Mountains to western Oklahoma, western Texas and northern Chihuahua
  • A. w. texana: west-central Texas
  • A. w. grisea: northwestern Mexico (eastern slopes of Sierra Madre Occidental)
  • A. w. cyanotis: mountains of east-central Mexico (southern Coahuila and Nuevo León to Hidalgo)
  • Sunichrast's Scrub Jay:
  • A. w. sumichrasti: highlands of southern Mexican plateau (Veracruz to Puebla and Oaxaca)
  • A. w. remota: southwestern Mexico (Sierra Madre del Sur of Guerrero)


  • The woodhouseii group has a preference for pinyon-juniper woodland but is also found in open oak and pine-oak woodlands.
  • The sumichrasti group occurs in a variety of open woodland and brushy environments.


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, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. audubonbirds.org
  5. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of this species
  6. Online reference on identification of Woodhouse's vs California Scrub Jay.

Recommended Citation

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