IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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The western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) is one of six species of scrub jay, all native to western North America.  A medium-sized bird, approximately 27–31 cm (11–12 in) in length, it ranges from southern Washington to central Texas and central Mexico, inhabiting areas of low scrub including pinon-juniper forests, oak woods, edges of mixed evergreen forests, and mesquite bosques.  Scrub jays are often confused as "blue jays" (Cyanocitta cristata), which are smaller and crested corvids, resident of eastern North America.  Western scrub jays are very common west of the Rocky Mountains, usually living in pairs or small groups.  In recent years, the California scrub jay has expanded its range north into the Puget Sound region of Washington (Cornell Lab of Ornithology ND; Wikipedia 2015).

The western scrub jay is nonmigratory and can be found in urban areas, where it can become tame and will come to bird feeders.  They are omnivorous, eating insects, eggs of other birds, small reptiles and amphibians, as well as seeds, nuts, fruits.  They have been shown to cache and store food for future needs, and are thought to have good special memory and observational skills (which the use to pilfer the caches of other individuals), remembering the location of 200 or more different storage locations (Correia et al 2007; Dally et al 2006).

Aphelocoma californica comprises three subspecies groups, which show distinct morphological and behavioral differences: the California scrub jay (coastal), Woodhouse's scrub jay (interior US and northern Mexico), and Sumichrast's scrub jay (interior southern Mexico).  In molecular phylogenetic reconstructions, these three groups do not make up a monophyletic lineage with respect to the island scrub jay (A. insularis) and the Florida scrub jay (A. coerulescens); Delaney et al. (2008) suggest that A. californica species be reconsidered as two or three separate species. 


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