The Western Scrub-Jay was split into 2 species over the summer of 2016. The California Scrub-Jay is found west of the Sierras and the Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay east of the Sierras making 11 Jay species in North America. I have seen 7 of the 11 species. All the Jays I have encountered are very approachable and therefore make great subjects.
The bill of the California Scrub-Jay is stout and hooked perfectly suited to open acorns in their oak woodland habitats. The Woodhouse's have thinner pointed bill which is better for pulling pine nuts from pinyon pine cones.
The very social Pinyon Jay is usually found in large flocks and specialize on feeding on pine seeds. Like other birds of the family Corvidae, Jays are very intelligent and individuals have excellent spatial memories allowing them to find their cache of seeds months later even through snow.
The Steller’s Jay is common in forests and wooded landscapes. They are very vocal and mimic other birds like the Red-shoulder and Red-tail Hawks. I have seen them harass a Sharp-shinned Hawks and I counted 65 chasing one but when a Cooper's Hawk is in the area complete silence.
The Blue Jay is very common and is a large songbird that can be found all over North America except for the southwest. Thousands migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, but much about their migration remains a mystery. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. No one has worked out why they migrate when they do. I saw this Jay in the winter at Barr Lake in Colorado.
The cute Gray Jay is one of the most fearless birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter. Always looking for food and during summer they hoard food in trees to sustain themselves through the cold winter months. On a trip to Oregon at the south end of Crater Lake I saw my first one. Of the 11 North America species, I need to find 4 more so I guess a trip to the Southwest and Texas will be coming soon..
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Reference source Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds (www.allaboutbirds.org/)