Island Scrub Jay
An Island Scrub Jay is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Island Scrub Jays. We have also put together a list of fun Island Scrub Jay t-shirts, Island Scrub Jaybird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Island Scrub Jays
Also known as the ‘island jay’ or ‘Santa-cruz jay’, is one of the over 500 breeding bird species in the USA. It is found in Santa Cruz Island and Southern California.
Description and Identification
While Island Scrub Jays have plumages that are similar to other Jay species in the
mainland, they can be identified from their relatively large size. These birds are almost 13
inches long with a wingspan of 17 inches. The tail-span of these birds is also relatively long
while their large black bills look disproportionate in comparison to their bodies. They have
broad heads with an ultramarine-blue nape, crown, upper wings, and tail, along with a white
upper breast, chin, and throat. They also don a distinct gray-brown patch on the upper parts
of their back. Unlike many other jays, the colors of the plumages are far more vibrant and
conspicuous among the Island Scrub Jays. Juveniles are grayish-white with blue wings and
Island Scrub Jay Appearance
It is a pale gray bird with a blue head. It has a long black and sharp bill that is gray on the sides. The blue coloration extends from its head and draws a blue line down its back. It ends by broadening up and covering the entire tail’s upper side, making the tail blue on the upper side and gray on the lower side.
Island Scrub Jay Feeding
Island Scrub Jays mainly eat acorns, seeds, and insects. However, their diet is quite
versatile and can also include a range of spiders, snakes, lizards, mice, and other birds’
eggs and nestlings that they forage for in flocks. The large bills of these birds are directly
related to their diet; the stout bill aids them in breaking the shells of the acorns. They are
also known to bury or cache acorns during the fall to save them for consumption months
The Island Scrub-Jay has a bill that adapts it to feeding on thick-shelled acorns found on the island oaks, being thick and long. During the fall, they collect and store acorns, which they may eat months later. Apart from acorns, the jays also eat spiders, snakes, lizards, mice, and other birds’ nestlings and eggs.
Island Scrub Jay Habitat
These birds breed in the coasts of oak woodland or chaparral in Santa Cruz Island. They
gravitate towards areas with scrub oak and are commonly seen in Upper Scorpion Canyon,
at Prisoner’s Harbour, or in park properties throughout the island. While major habitats on
the island consists of low chaparral dominated by island scrub oak and oak woodlands, they
are adaptable and can take advantages of habitats such as pine wood and streamside
thickets as well.
They live solely on Santa Cruz Island and occupy a region of 250 square kilometers. There is no evidence that they ever lived anywhere else, including lack of fossil remains anywhere else apart from Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands.
Range and Migration
Island Scrub Jays are vibrant bluebirds that are known to be endemic to Santa Cruz Island
off the coast of southern California. They are the only breeding bird species to be insular and
endemic in all of continental United States. While being closely related to California Scrub
Jays in both size and disposition, Island Scrub Jays are larger and far more vivid in their
appearances. Certain studies have revealed that Island Scrub Jays seem to be incapable of
crossing large bodies of water, posing as an explanation for their location on Santa Cruz
Island Scrub Jay Life and behavior
The Scrub Jays are not cooperative breeders, and the mated pair usually takes sole responsibility for the younglings’ upbringing. They build a nest 1m to 8m above the ground, where mating takes place.
Afterward, the female lays 3 to 5 eggs in the nest and incubates them. The normal incubation period lasts approximately 20 days, where the female stays in the nest the whole time. The male brings her food and acts as security to protect the female and the eggs from other island jays and other predators. After the nestlings become mature enough to leave the nest, they move away from their parents and take up lives of their own.
Island Scrub Jay Nesting
These birds are monogamous and may remain with one mate all their lives. Unlike other jays
, however, these birds are fiercely territorial and breed in isolated pairs rather than
cooperative flocks. Due to the saturation of the island with different breeding territories of the
species, breeding is delayed by years for many birds due to the lack of available space. It is
unclear who the nesting sites are selected by, but they are typically located in dense bushes
and trees that are well concealed. More often than not, the trees selected by the birds are
oaks. The nests are usually 4 – 10 feet above the ground but can be made as high up as 40
feet. The resultant nests made by both members of the pair are bulky and thick-walled, with
the exterior cup made of twigs and the interiors lined with fine rootlets and animal hair.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Island Scrub Jays
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Island Scrub Jays are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Island Scrub Jay T-shirts
If you love the Island Scrub Jay you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Island Scrub Jay Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Island Scrub Jay is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Island Scrub Jay Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Island Scrub Jay. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Island Scrub Jay
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Island Scrub Jay
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.