California Scrub-Jay

The California scrub-jay is found in dry lowlands, wooded hillsides, and scrub oak forests of the West. Its loud shack-shack-shack-shack call reverberates as pairs of these raucous birds move about the scrub habitat for which they are named. There are three separate scrub-jay species in North America, but only the California scrub-jay, the blue-colored jay of the West, is widespread and common. The other two, the Florida scrub-jay and island scrub-jay, have very small populations and limited ranges. Western scrub-jays are incredibly creative when seeking food. They will beg at picnic tables, steal acorns from the granaries of acorn woodpeckers, and perch on the backs of mule deer to remove and eat the tasty ticks they find there.

In the West, any backyard with scrub oaks, pinyons, or juniper trees may have a visit from a flock of scrub-jays. In summer, their diet is largely insects, while the fall and winter diet shifts to fruits, seeds, and nuts. They will visit bird feeders for sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet or suet dough, and other offerings. A reliable source of water is another good attractant. If your property includes scrubby habitat with good cover and a reliable food supply, you may entice a pair of western scrub-jays to nest.

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