Aphelocoma californica • Birds
The “blue jay” of dry western lowlands, the western scrub-jay combines deep azure blue with dusty gray-brown and white. The rounded, crestless head immediately sets it apart from blue jays and steller’s jays. These birds are a fixture of dry shrublands, oak woodlands, and pinyon pine-juniper forests, as well as conspicuous visitors to backyards.
Western scrub-jays have a naughty streak. They’ve been caught stealing acorns from woodpecker caches and robbing seeds and pine cones from other birds. They mostly eat insects and fruit during spring and summer, and switch to nuts and seeds during fall and winter. They eat small animals such as lizards and other nestling birds, and can be seen standing on the back of a mule deer picking off and eating ticks and other parasites.
Living in scrub, open oak woodlands, and suburban yards, nests of 1-5 eggs are made of a basket of twigs lined with rootlets, fine strands of plant fibers, and livestock hair.