Western Scrub Jay

(Aphelocoma californica)

WesternScrubJayThe Western Scrub
Jay is the familiar jay
species of backyards
and urban parks in
San Francisco. With
its bright blue
plumage, raucous
voice, conspicuous
behavior and
tendency to visit bird
feeders, it is well
known by
ornithologists and
laypeople alike.

A member of the Corvid family, the Scrub Jay is the smaller cousin of
the Crow, Raven and Magpie. Unlike its larger relatives, it typically
lives in small family groups and is rarely seen gathering into large
flocks.

Scrub Jays are opportunistic omnivores eating nuts, fruits, seeds,
reptiles, smaller birds and their eggs, as well as carrion. Perhaps the
most fascinating aspect of their life is the caching behavior they
exhibit.  Excess food, from acorns, animal parts and insects to
peanuts and other food taken from feeders is hidden away for later
use. Laboratory studies indicate that jays use “spatial memory” to
later retrieve the hidden items. Individual birds have been noted to
store several thousand acorns or other food items in the autumn.
The food items are pounded into loose soil and often covered with
leaves or other objects.

Fostering a love of science, nature and the arts

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