U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


SCRUB (OR CALIFORNIA) JAY (Aphelocoma coerulescens)

Jerry P. Clark, Primary State Biologist, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, California 94271-0001
Scott E. Hygnstrom, Extension Wildlife Damage Specialist, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583

Document Type Article


The scrub (or California) jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is distinguished by its crestless head, olive-gray back, and white throat, outlined in blue. Scrub jays are found in the western United States, parts of Mexico, and in central Florida. Scrub jays commonly inhabit the oak and brush-covered foothills of the mountains, timbered canyons, river bottoms, oak-lined sloughs and creeks, as well as the shade trees and dense shrubbery of residential areas. Beal (1910) reported that the diet of the scrub jay consisted of 73% plant and 27% animal matter. The plant matter was about one-third fruits and berries, and two-thirds acorns, nuts, and grain. Nests are usually found on brush-covered hillsides or in creek bottoms in low bushes, shrubs, and trees. Jays are omnivorous and therefore may damage several agricultural crops such as nuts, fruits, grains, peas, corn, and berries. Scrub jays are classified as migratory nongame birds in the Code of Federal Regulations.