Friday, November 20, 2015

Western Scrub-Jay

Last July we spent a week in Olympia, Washington, getting to know our granddaughter and welcoming her brother into this world. Birding and dragonflying took second seat. The kids filled their feeders allowing us to see some interesting birds. Western Scrub-Jays have hard for me to photograph. These jays are common across the western states south into Mexico. They frequent forests and suburban areas. In these images, the first is probably an adult and the others are young birds.  Younger birds lack blue on their heads and have have less white in their throats. They lack an obvious white eye stripe.
Coastal Western Scrub-Jays are darker and less shy than birds from the interior.  Unlike in many animals, northern birds are larger than those in southern populations. Contrary to this trend, birds from central Mexico are the largest scrub-jays of all. Because of this variation, ornithologists may yet recognize three species of these birds—the California Scrub-Jay from the northwestern United States to Baja California; Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay from Nevada to central Mexico; and Sumichrast’s Scrub-Jay in south-central Mexico. These species would be further broken into various races. As it is, two outlying jays, the Florida Scrub-Jay and the Island Scrub-Jay are currently considered to be distinct, but closely related, species (Curry et al. 2002).

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