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Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

Backyard Tips

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.

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.

Get Involved

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay is a focal species for Project NestWatch. Join and contribute your observations!

The "Western" Scrub-Jay" (including California and Woodhouse's) is one of the top 25 feeder birds for California and the Southwest, according to Project FeederWatch. Report your counts of jays and other birds at your feeders this winter.

You Might Also Like

Downloadable Common Feeder Birds poster from Project FeederWatch (PDF)

Explore sounds and video of Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive

Scrubland Survivors: The precarious existence of the Florida Scrub-Jay, Living Bird, Autumn 2008.

Naturalist’s Notebook: The Secret Knowledge Of Western Scrub-Jays, Living Bird, Summer 2008.

Naturalist’s Notebook: Two Forms Of The Western Scrub-Jay, Living Bird, Autumn 2009.

Where Is That Bird Going With That Seed? It’s Caching Food For Later, All About Birds, April 13, 2016.

Farewell Western Scrub-Jay!, Project FeederWatch, September 8, 2016.



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