Blue Jays, Scrub Jays, are blue birds and some of the most attractive birds in North America. Scrub Jays are passerine birds that belong to the genus Aphelocoma. Different species of Scrub Jays are extensively found in the United States, Mexico and Western Central America. Many a times, Scrub Jays are mistaken with different species of magpies or treepies. Scrub Jays prefer to live in open chaparral, pine-oak forests and mixed evergreen forests.
What is the scientific classification of Scrub Jay?
What are the different types of Scrub Jays?
Till date, 6 species of Scrub Jay has been recognized namely: Aphelocoma californica, A.insularis, A. coerulescens, A. ultramarina, A. unicolor and A. wollweberi.
Aphelocoma unicolor or Unicolored Jay is found in the cloud forests of southern and southeastern Mexico, northwestern Central America, El Salvador, Guatemala, and eastern Honduras. Measuring between 27 – 32 cm, these scrub-jays weigh between 75-85 gm. It has uniform dark blue plumage and brownish-black feathers under its wing and tail.
Aphelocoma wollweberi or Mexican Jay or Gray-breasted Jay is often seen in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of Mexico, western Texas, north and southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico. The Mexican Jay are medium-sized passerine weighing approximately 120 gms, with a blue head, blue-gray mantle, blue wings and tail. It has pale grey breast and under parts. Both the sexes are morphologically similar. Juveniles have less blue coloration compared to the adult population. The iris is brown and legs are black.
Aphelocoma ultramarine or Transvolcanic Jay is native to Central Mexico. Generally, these scrub jays measure between 28 - 32 cm. It has a dark-bluish head. This species has bluish-purple upperparts and brownish-grey underparts. The throat area is paler compared to other body parts. A.ultramarine has a black bill. Females are smaller than the males; juveniles are mouse-grey in color.
Aphelocoma insularis or Island Scrub Jay. It is found in the southern California. Measuring 33 cm, Island Scrub Jay has a long distinguishing tail. It has a broad head with ultramarine-blue nape, crown, upper wing and tail. Aphelocoma insularis has a white upper breast, chin, and throat. This species of Scrub Jay has a distinct blue collar below throat which is nearly complete. Island Scrub Jay has a disproportionate large black bill.
Aphelocoma californica or WesternScrub Jay is commonly seen in the United States and Mexico. This scrub jay has 15 subspecies that are classified in three main groups namely Aphelocoma [californica] californica or California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma [californica] woodhouseii or Woodhouse's Scrub Jay and Aphelocoma [californica] sumichrasti or Sumichrast's Scrub Jay. Aphelocoma californica measures between 28-33 cm and has a large strong bill and long tail. It has bluish wings, head, and tail; dull brownish back; light gray under parts. This species of Scrub Jay lacks crest. It has a white throat contrasted by incomplete blue necklace.
Aphelocoma coerulescens or Florida Scrub-Jay is native to North America. Its main habitiat is rare Oak scrub community. But with the habitat under threat, this is classified,"Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. This the only avian species endemic to the U.S. state of Florida. This popular scrub jay measures approximately 28 cm, and weighs between 75–85 g . It has a powerful black bill, and blue head and nape. Florida Jay has a whitish forehead, blue wings and bib. The underparts are grayish. It has a long blue tail, black legs and feet.
What do Scrub Jays eat?
All the species are omnivorous. Scrub Jays prefer to consume fruits, acorns, nuts, and grain. Often, Scrub Jays store or hide nuts and acorns for later use. These passerine birds also feed on spiders, bird’s eggs mice, lizards, tree-frogs insects, snails and small vertebrates. Scrub jays hop or run along the groundto catch their prey.
What are the general characteristics of reproduction in Scrub Jays?
Scrub Jays are monogamous. Males and females start copulation after completing two to three years. After gaining maturity, Scrub Jay couples choose a territory and stay there permanently. Mating season starts from the month of March through June. Usually, female scrub jays lay 4 to 6 pale eggs. She takes care for the eggs for around eighteen days till they hatch. Within 2-3 weeks of hatching, juvenile scrub-jays or fledglings get their feathers and start to fly. Juvenile scrub jays stay with their parents for consecutive 2 to 3 years till they reach their breeding age. Cats, snakes, hawks, and falcons are the predators of the adult Scrub-Jays.
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