Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Robert T. Maytum
Photo Courtesy of Robert T. Maytum

The western scrub-jay, Aphelocoma californica, occurs through much of Mexico and in the western United States. In Utah, it is common state-wide, especially in shrub-dominated habitats such as scrub oak stands and pinyon-juniper forests.

The western scrub-jay is omnivorous. Insects are an important component of the diet, as are nuts, seeds, and fruits, especially during the non-breeding season. This jay also feeds on the eggs and young of small birds, and a variety of other small vertebrates. Nests are built by both parents of sticks, stems, and grasses, and lined with fine plant fibers and hair. They are usually located close to the ground from three to ten feet up in a tree or bush. Typically two or three eggs are laid and incubated by the female for 15 to 17 days. During this period, the male brings food to the nest. After hatching, the young are tended by both parents and leave the nest after about 18 days. Often, the young remain with the parents for a long period after leaving the nest, with small family flocks remaining together until the next year.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.