Fun Island Scrub Jay Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Nov 17, 2022 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Island scrub jay facts, a bird species endemic to Santa Cruz Island
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.7 Min

The island scrub-Jay is exclusively found on the North American island of Santa Cruz in Channel Islands National Park, on the southern California coast. This bird belongs to the crow family and is closely related to the California scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica). The island scrub-jay is larger and has more distinct calls than its mainland relatives.

The island jay's bill is due to its diet of thick-shelled acorns, which they bury in the fall and devour months later. Their food also includes snakes, lizards, spiders, mice, and eggs of other birds and nestlings. A nest is built 1-8 m (3.3-26 ft) above the ground, and the young are taken care of by both parents.

The growing threat of the West Nile virus and climate change are a few reasons that may decline its population size and its conservation status as vulnerable.

To know more facts about fascinating birds, check our articles on western bluebird facts and hyacinth macaw facts.

Island Scrub Jay Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an island scrub jay?

The island scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis) is an island endemic bird on Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California and is also closely related to North American species.

What class of animal does an island scrub jay belong to?

The island scrub jay belongs to the genus Aphelocoma from the family Corvidae.

How many island scrub jays are there in the world?

The population size in the early 2000s was estimated to be between 1700 and 2300 individuals, making it one of the rarest songbird species in North America. However, the population appears to be stable at present.

Where does an island scrub jay live?

The population of island scrub-jays (Aphelocoma insularis) exists only on Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands on the coast of southern California. This makes it the sole island endemic bird species of North America.

The Channel Islands National Park is a nature reserve and is under the administration of the National Park Service and Nature Conservancy. However, due to the island's limited size, the population of this species is still deemed vulnerable.

What is an island scrub jay's habitat?

On Santa Cruz Island, its main ecosystems are low chaparral dominated by island scrub oak and forests. However, they are adaptable and can be found in various environments, including pine woodlands and streamside thickets of California. This is the sole scrub-jay on the Channel Islands, and it has a wider range of habitats than mainland scrub-jays.

Who does island scrub jay live with?

Island scrub-jays (Aphelocoma insularis) are not solitary birds. These jays, and a few other North American jay species, are also called bully birds.

How long does an island scrub jay live?

The island scrub-jay is expected to live up to 20 years. However, climate change and diseases, like the West Nile virus, is decreasing their lifespan.

How do they reproduce?

The island scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) species is monogamous, with the same mate for most of their life. Their hefty, thick-walled cup of twigs nest is normally on trees or shrubs above the ground and is created by both sexes.

Three to five eggs are laid by females, whereas feeding and caring for the young is taken care of by both.

What is their conservation status?

The island scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis) only occurs in Santa Cruz Island (California), and hence it is Vulnerable to significant disasters, disease outbreaks, and climate change. On the IUCN Red List, the island scrub-jay is listed as Vulnerable. The most serious threat to these birds is the possibility of the West Nile Virus being introduced to Santa Cruz Island.

Island Scrub Jay Fun Facts

What do island scrub jays look like?

Did you know that scrub jays also eat small birds and other birds' eggs.

The island scrub jay has a broad head with an ultramarine-blue nape, crown, upper wing, and tail, white upper breast, chin, and the throat, and a huge gray-brown patch on its upper back. Other distinguishing features include a virtually complete blue-collar below the throat, a disproportionately large black beak, and a long tail like most other jays.

How cute are they?

Island scrub-jays are synonymous with cuteness. Feeding their favorite food like suet, cracked corn, tiny fruits, berries, mealworms, and sunflower seeds, are excellent options for attracting jays and watching their cuteness.

How do they communicate?

The island scrub-jays are known to emit raspy shek-shek-shek or rising shreeenk calls. These birds have calls similar to those of the Western scrub-jay (Aphelocoma california), but louder and harsher than those of mainland species.

How big is an island scrub jay?

The island scrub jay measures 11-12 in (28-33 cm)in length with a wingspan of around 15 in (38.1 cm). These birds are larger when compared to other species of scrub jays.

How fast can an island scrub jay move?

Not much data is available on the exact speed of the island scrub jay. However, these birds fly with buoyant, steady wing beats with an average wingspan of 15 in (38.1 cm). They glide from tree to tree, between trees, and from tree to ground on Santa Cruz Island.

How much does an island scrub jay weigh?

The island scrub jay weight ranges between 4.1-4.4 oz (116-125 g) and is larger than the western scrub jay.

What are their male and female names of the species?

They are called male island scrub jay and female island scrub jay as they do not have any particular names based on sex.

What would you call a baby island scrub jay?

The baby of the island scrub jay is not given any specific name. The juvenile has grey plumage, which slowly molts to blue feathers as they mature.

What do they eat?

The diet of these birds includes thick-shelled acorns of the island oak, seeds, snakes, insects, lizards, and mice. They are also known to scavange on baby birds and eggs of other birds on rare occasions.

Are they poisonous?

No data suggests this bird species is poisonous, however, they'll attack and consume small adult birds who have been hurt.

Would they make a good pet?

The idea to keep this cute bird as a pet may be exciting; however, keeping a scrub jay without permission is banned in California.

Did you know...

Like many birds, scrub jays puff up, especially in winter. Birds fluff or changing their feathers to generate air pockets. The more air space they have, the better the insulation will be to keep them warm.

What is the difference between a scrub jay and a blue jay?

While many people mistake scrub jays for blue jays, the blue jay is a completely different species of bird. The blue jay bird is native to eastern North America and belongs to the Corvidae family. This North American bird is migratory, whereas the island scrub jay is nonmigratory and is endemic to Santa Cruz Island, California.

Longtails and short bills distinguish scrub jays. The back is brown, the underside is grey to tan, and the throat is white. The blue jays have a crest, unlike the Western scrub jays.

Are scrub jays aggressive?

No specific data is available on the aggressive nature of island scrub jays. However, Californian scrub jays are possibly one of the most despised birds in the Bay Area. They are abrasive, consume everything, including newborn birds, and have a strained relationship with their neighbors.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our fruit bat facts and Mexican free-tailed bat facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable island scrub jay coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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