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Western Scrub Jay

Aphelocoma californica

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Western Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica, in the New River Mountains, Maricopa County, Arizona, USA. October 2009.

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In the higher elevations of the Sonoran Desert with elements of Piñon/Juniper or Chaparral mixed in, Western Scrub Jay is fairly common. In some winters when food becomes scarce (particularily acorns) Western Scrub Jays will move into desert areas in search of food.

Scrub Jays lack the head crest that distinguishes Stellar's Jay (extreemly rare in winter on desert). The back and head appear azure blue with intensity dependent on the angle of incident light. There is a faint necklace usually visible between the light gray throat and chest. A light eyebrow stripe is present.

Year-round Resident - Partial Elevational Migration - occasionally moves into lower deserts during winter months

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008