California Scrub-Jay

Aphelocoma californica
Range Map

Since most of these images were captured, the Western Scrub-Jay complex has been split into multiple species. In 2016, the American Ornithologists’ Union (now called American Ornithological Society) separated the California Scrub-Jay and the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay to their own species.

The California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) inhabits areas of low scrub chaparral and oak woodlands. They range over much of western USA west of the Cascade and Sierra-Nevada Ranges. The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii) makes its home in the Great Basin and Rocky mountains south of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming into central Mexico.

Some taxonomists recognise three subspecies of California Scrub-Jay, while others call for eight:

  • A. c. californica lives in the Coast Range of central California.
  • A. c. obscura lives in the Mojave Desert of southwestern California and northern Baja California (Mexico).
  • A. c. hypoleuca lives in southern Baja California (Mexico).

The additional five subspecies are:

  • A. c. immanis lives in western Washington, and Oregon.
  • A. c. oocleptica lives in south-central Oregon and south to interior central California.
  • A. c. caurina lives in coastal southern Oregon and south to California’s inner Coast Ranges.
  • A. c. cana lives in Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California.
  • A. c. cactophila lives in Central Baja California (Mexico).

Being that I’m a southern California native, it will not come as a surprise that all my meetings with California Scrub-Jays have come from there. My own yard provided me with ample opportunities to enjoy their antics.

Click map markers to reveal further information