The California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) is a medium-sized bird species that can be found in the western part of North America, specifically in California and parts of Oregon and Washington. Adults typically measure around 11 inches (28 cm) in length and weigh between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces (71 to 99 grams), with males being slightly larger than females.
One of the distinguishing field marks of the California Scrub-Jay is its overall blue plumage, with a gray-brown back and a lighter grayish-white belly. Its wings and tail feathers are a darker blue, and it has a distinct blue crest on its head. Its bill is fairly long and curved, and its eyes are a dark brownish-black color.
California Scrub-Jays are non-migratory birds and can be found year-round in their preferred habitats, which include oak woodlands, chaparral, and suburban areas with trees and shrubs. They are highly adaptable birds and have even been known to thrive in urban environments.
One interesting behavior of the California Scrub-Jay is their habit of hoarding food for later consumption. They will store acorns, seeds, and even small invertebrates in caches throughout their territory, which they will then retrieve later when food becomes scarce. This behavior can actually have a positive impact on the environment, as the birds often forget where they have hidden their caches, leading to the germination of new plants.
In terms of conservation status, the California Scrub-Jay is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and agricultural development remain ongoing threats to the species.