Steller’s Jay And Western Scrub Spotted In Quemazon

A Western Scrub jay spotted this morning in a back yard on Quemazon Street in Los Alamos. Photo by Trisha Ancell

A Steller’s jay spotted this morning in a back yard on Quemazon Street in Los Alamos. Photo by Trisha Ancell

A Western Scrub jay spotted this morning in a back yard on Quemazon Street in Los Alamos. Photo by Trisha Ancell

Staff Report

The Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a jay native to western North America, closely related to the blue jay found in the rest of the continent, but with a black head and upper body.

It is also known as the long-crested jay, mountain jay, and pine jay. It is the only crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Steller’s jay shows a great deal of regional variation throughout its range. Blackish-brown-headed birds from the north gradually become bluer-headed farther south. The Steller’s jay has a more slender bill and longer legs than the blue jay and has a much more pronounced crest. It is also somewhat larger.

The head is blackish-brown with light blue streaks on the forehead. This dark coloring gives way from the shoulders and lower breast to silvery blue. The primaries and tail are a rich blue with darker barring.

It occurs in coniferous forest over much of the western half of North America from Alaska in the north to northern Nicaragua completely replacing the blue jay in most of those areas.

Some hybridization with the blue jay in Colorado has been reported. The Steller’s jay lives in coniferous and mixed woodland, but not in completely dense forest, and requires open space. It typically lives in flocks of greater than 10 individuals. In autumn, flocks often visit oak woods when acorns are ripe.

The western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica), is a species of scrub jay native to western North America. It ranges from southern Washington to central Texas and central Mexico. It comprises three distinct subspecies groups, all of which may be separate species. They are California scrub jay (coastal), Woodhouse’s scrub jay (interior US and northern Mexico), and Sumichrast’s scrub jay (interior southern Mexico).

The western scrub jay was once lumped with the island scrub jay and the Florida scrub jay; the taxon was then called, simply, the scrub jay. The western scrub jay is nonmigratory and can be found in urban areas, where it can become tame and will come to bird feeders.

While many refer to scrub jays as “blue jays”, the blue jay is a different species of bird entirely. In recent years, the California scrub jay has expanded its range north into the Puget Sound region of Washington.

Source: wikipedia.com

A Steller’s jay spotted this morning in a back yard on Quemazon Street in Los Alamos. Photo by Trisha Ancell

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