Fun Scrub Jay Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 19, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Scrub jay facts let you know about these beautiful bird species

Scrub jays are wonderful birds found in North America. These birds are found in various regions across the North American territory and the four species of scrub jays are the California scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica), the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens), the island scrub jay (Aphelocoma insularis), and Woodhouse's scrub jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii).

Both California scrub jays and Woodhouse's scrub jays previously fell under the group of western scrub jays. Later, they were separated into two species.

These birds are seen in various regions of the U.S. and also in parts of Mexico. The typical scrub jay habitat varies from coastal areas to suburban and even urban areas.

Scrubs are also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States. This was done to protect the scrub jay bird from being hunted, captured, killed, or sold without any waiver.

These birds are known for their melodious vocalizations and scrub jay sounds are quite pleasing to hear. Despite being similar kinds of birds of the same family, the main difference between scrub jays and blue jays is the lack of a crest in the former.

There are also other variations in the color of their bodies. The genus Aphelocoma, to which scrub jays, belong has three other species in the genus apart from them.

To learn more about this bird, continue reading! If you like this article, you can also check out our guides to the mockingbird and hummingbird.

Scrub Jay Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a scrub jay?

Scrub jays are North American birds.

What class of animal does a scrub jay belong to?

Scrub jays are birds belonging to class Aves. They are part of the order Passeriformes.

How many scrub jays are there in the world?

The four kinds of scrub jays have different population trends. California scrub jays are fairly common and show a stable population trend.

Florida scrub jays have a decreasing population and the International Union for Conservation of Nature puts the number of mature birds belonging to this species between the range of 2,500-9,999. Both island scrub jays and Woodhouse's scrub jays also have a smaller number of individuals.

The former is restricted to Santa Cruz Island and the latter is not very commonly seen in nature.

Where does a scrub jay live?

Being North American birds, scrub jays are found in various regions of the country. Florida scrub jays are found only in Florida in the U.S., they are endemic to that state. California scrub jays are seen in the western region of North America.

Their common location range is from central Texas to the west coast of the U.S. and they have also been found in Mexico. Woodhouse's scrub jays also belong to the west of North America. Island scrub jays only exist on the Island of Santa Cruz.

What is a scrub jay's habitat?

The habitats of all four species of scrub jays overlap at times. Most of these birds are present in areas with oak woodlands and pinyon pine trees. In addition to this, California scrub jays are seen in coastal regions which are dry.

Florida scrub jays also like nesting in oak scrub woodlands and at recently burned sites. Island scrub jays are primarily seen in chaparral habitats in Santa Cruz Island. These species can be found in both urban and suburban areas as well.

Who do scrub jays live with?

Scrub jays are social birds, and so, they can be found in pairs or small groups. These species are known to form hierarchies in their social groups, with the breeding male birds being dominant in these hierarchies. These birds are also known to look out for each other within their groups.

How long does a scrub jay live?

The four species of scrub jays have different life spans. Florida scrub jays can live as long as 11 years, but their average lifespan is recorded to be four and a half years. Island scrub jays can survive until 20 years of age.

In comparison, te Woodhouse's scrub jays have a shorter lifespan, as they live up to nine years. The longest recorded lifespan of a California scrub jay was over 15 years in the wild.

The oldest known scrub jay was a California scrub named Aaron. He was raised in California in 1991 and lived to the age of 19 years and eight months! !

How do they reproduce?

These species of birds are monogamous in nature. Florida scrub jays follow a system of cooperative breeding.

This means, the offsprings of the bird are cared for by other birds in the group, and they are known as helpers. However, this same structure is not seen in the other species. The male bird usually uses a range of songs and vocalizations in order to attract the female scrub.

Their breeding season varies depending on the species. On average, all the species lay 3-6 eggs. Scrub jay eggs are usually different shades of green with spots on them.

These eggs are cared for by both the parent birds. After 18-20 days of incubation, the eggs hatch, and the offsprings are born.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the California scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) has been listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Florida scrub jay is marked as Vulnerable.

The main threats faced by Florida scrub jay birds are related to habitat loss due to agriculture and commercial development. They are also affected by climate change. The conservation status of Woodhouse's scrub jays and island scrub jays is Not Listed.

Scrub Jay Fun Facts

What do scrub jays look like?

Scrub jays generally have a blue head, tail, and wings. Other parts of their body are white, gray, or brown and they lack crests, unlike some other members of the same family. Males usually appear larger than females and juvenile birds are seen with dull gray feathers that gradually develop into blue feathers.

How cute are they?

Scrub jays are very cute birds. Their beautiful vocalizations and songs enhance their cuteness even more.

How do they communicate?

Just like the other birds in this genus, scrub jays are known to be quite vocal. They have a range of different sounds that they make to convey various messages.

These birds make a lot of warning calls in case of any looming dangers. Males also sing melodious tunes in order to identify and attract a mate. Sometimes, these birds can also bob their head in order to communicate.

How big is a scrub jay?

Scrub jays are all similar in size. However, island scrubs appear bigger.

Florida, California, and Woodhouse's scrub jays are 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm), 11.5 in (29.2 cm), and 11-12 in (27.9-30.4 cm), in length, respectively. In comparison, the length of island scrubs is  13 in (33 cm). Their wingspan ranges between 15-17 in (38.1-43.2 cm) and they appear almost the same size as blue jays.

How fast can a scrub jay fly?

The exact flight speed of these birds is not known. However, these birds generally fly with the help of repeated and alternative beatings of their wings. California scrub jays are seen in gliding flights, whereas island scrubs engage in an undulating style of flight.

How much does a scrub jay weigh?

The Florida scrub jay, California scrub jay, and Woodhouse's scrub jay have similar weights. Their average weights are 2.7 oz (76.5 g), 2.9 oz (82.2 g), and 2.8 oz (79.3 g), respectively. The island scrub jay is much bigger and weighs between 4.1-4.4 oz (116-125 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female scrub jays are simply known as male scrub jay birds and female scrub jay birds respectively.

What would you call a baby scrub jay?

Scrub jay babies are known as chicks. They are also referred to as scrub jay juvenile birds sometimes.

What do they eat?

The scrub jay diet is omnivorous in nature. Scrub jays eat a variety of things and their diet includes seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, and acorns. They also like eating smaller animals, snakes, various insects, non-insect arthropods, and amphibians. Scrub jays eat eggs and nestlings of other birds as well.

Are they aggressive?

Scrub jays are known to be aggressive birds. They are hostile towards other birds and tend to be very territorial.

This behavior is especially pronounced during their breeding season. One of the easiest ways of keeping scrub jays out of your garden is by placing a statue of any raptor (bird of prey) or playing their sounds as scrub jays are very scared of raptors.

Would they make a good pet?

Since scrub jays are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, legally they cannot be kept as pets. However, the scrub jays which live near urban areas are known to feed off people's hands. So here, you can feed them seeds and acorns.

Did you know...

Scrub jays are extremely intelligent birds. These birds are known to plan ahead for the future, which is a trait common only to humans and dolphins. They even remember the locations of all the places where they bury their food.

Woodhouse's scrub jay (scientific name: Aphelocoma woodhouseii) was named in honor of Samuel Washington Woodhouse, an American naturalist.

A subgroup under Woodhouse's scrub jays are found in Mexico and called Sumichrast's scrub jay.

Many people believe that seeing a scrub jay means your ability to solve problems in your life is strong, and that you can even extend that help to others.

What is the relationship between scrub jays and mule deers?

Scrub jays are known to stand on the backs of mule deers in the wild. They do so to eat the various ticks and parasites that are present in the fur of the deer. This forms a symbiotic relationship between the two and highlights the beauty and cooperation that exists in wildlife.

Do scrub jays steal?

Typical scrub jay behavior can be described as mischievous! These birds of North America are known to steal acorns from the acorn woodpecker, and sometimes, these birds also take away acorns from the caches of their own and similar species as well.

They often hide these stolen acorns in different hiding places. While burying the stolen acorns in their habitat, these small animals look around to make sure none of the other jays are watching them!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the yellow-billed cuckoo, or the kestrel bird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our scrub jay coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

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Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

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