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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Scrub Jay -- Aphelocoma coerulescens


RANGE: Resident from southwestern Washington to southern Wyoming and Colorado south to Baja California, western and west-central Texas, and Mexico; also on Santa Cruz in the Channel Islands in California, and in central Florida.

STATUS: Locally common; population is declining in Florida because of clearing and development of orange groves.

HABITAT: Inhabits a variety of brushy areas from dense chaparral, open woodlands and residential areas in the Pacific States to pinyon-juniper, scrub oak, and less frequently mixed oak and ponderosa pine in the interior West, and humid scrub-oak communities in Florida. Prefers borders of brushy ravines and wooded creek bottoms. In Florida, usually found near small openings or at the edge of the scrub rather than in dense, unbroken scrub.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Scrub habitats.

NEST: Builds nest in pinyons, oaks, tall shrubs, or vine tangles, generally less than 10 feet, but up to 30 feet, above the ground. Usually nests singly, but in Florida may nest in scattered colonies with up to 6 nests in small tracts of scrub.

FOOD: Consumes many kinds of insects and other invertebrates. Also eats acorns, seeds of palmetto, grains, fruits, mice, eggs and nestlings of birds, small reptiles, and frogs.

REFERENCES: Goodwin 1976, Harrison 1975, Johnsgard 1979, Tate and Tate 1982, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983b, Wilmore 1977.


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