Friday, July 1, 2005

Western Scrub-Jay

The Western Scrub-Jay (aphelocoma californica) is a common chapparal denizen. We have dozens of them on our property, which is mostly covered with the manzanita-chemise chapparal that is so characteristic of San Diego County's foothills. Almost any direction you might choose to look, and at almost any time of day, you're sure to see one of these fellows perched, sentry-fashion, in the top of a manzanita or other good lookout spot. You're also quite likely to hear him, as he scolds you for having the unmitigated gall to occupy his territory!

There's actually no simple way to know the gender of these birds, as they are not sexually dimorphic. There are two variants, according to Sibley: a "Pacific" and a "Interior"; ours match the "Interior" variant best in appearance, but in behavior (bold and conspicuous) they more closely match the "Pacific" variant. We suspect ours are just all mixed up.

Our feeders attract the jays, most especially the cracked corn and the oil sunflower seed. In fact, we had to get some special feeders to keep the jays out in order to give any other birds a shot at the oil sunflower seeds!

Click on the picture for a larger view...

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