Living Bird Magazine
Woodhouse's Scrub-JayAphelocoma woodhouseii
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Corvidae
The “blue jay” of dry lowlands from Nevada south to Mexico, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay is a dusty blue bird set off by gray-brown and white. It looks very similar to the California Scrub-Jay (they were considered the same species until 2016), but it's a dimmer blue and dingier gray, with almost no necklace, a straighter bill, and higher-pitched calls. The bird's rounded, crestless head immediately sets it apart from Blue Jays and Steller’s Jays. These birds are a fixture of dry shrublands and woodlands of pinyon pine and juniper.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for this bird in pinyon pine habitats, as well as in suburbs, parks, and along roadsides at relatively low elevations, or flying overhead on rounded, fluttering wings. Listen for the raspy scolds and weep calls these birds use to communicate.
- Chara de Woodhouse (Spanish)
- Geai de Woodhouse (French)
Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays are fond of sunflower seeds and peanuts at feeders. If you have dense shrubs or small trees in your yard, a pair might build a nest. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- Scrub-jays of the West evolved in two very different habitats: oak woodlands and montane pinyon pine stands. Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays live mainly among pinyon pine trees. They developed relatively thin, pointed bills that are adept at getting at the pine nuts hidden between pine cone scales. California Scrub-Jays live around oak trees and have developed stouter, more hooked bills that help them hammer open acorns.
- Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays have a mischievous streak, and they’re not above outright theft. They’ve been caught stealing acorns seeds and pine cones from Clark’s Nutcrackers.
- You might see Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays standing on the back of a mule deer. They’re picking off and eating ticks and other parasites. The deer seem to appreciate the help, often standing still and holding up their ears to give the jays access.