scrub jays

Jock jockhatch at
Wed Jan 14 00:34:23 PST 2004

Hi - We've observed several Scrubs here in Ballard over the last year or so. They really are large, distinctive, loud, and cool. They come to our suet feeders. I was sure surprised the first day I saw one! We have lots of Stellars, but these Scrubs really caught me off guard. Turns out that a few folks had seen them in our area. I reported to Tweeters and got lots of info.

Best, Jock
----- Original Message -----
From: J Bonham
To: tweeters
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 8:01 PM
Subject: scrub jays

I am a very amateur member of the bird watching community. I have lived in this area for the last 15 plus years, and a few years after we moved in, so did a small community of blue birds, or, as is their more recognized term, specifically scrub jays. For the past year or so I have spent a lot of time in bed, due to my health. My husband put up bird feeders around my bedroom, and scrub jays have been coming right up to my window to eat from their feeder. The only thing they will eat is strictly peanuts.

This has given me a good chance to observe and get to know my scrub jays and their individual personalities and colors fairly well.

On about Jan 2, 2004, I noticed something I couldn't figure out sitting in the trees off my patio doors, and I called both my daughter and a friend to see if they could tell what it was. It was absolutely huge compared to any of the birds that ordinarily take refuge in the trees to either rest or scope out what my birdfeeders have to offer. It wasn't until it flew off some time later that I recognized it for being a scrub jay. It wasn't, however, anything I had ever seen before.

It was definitely a scrub jay. Over the next two days it came and went at will, leaving me without any peanuts, of course. On about the third day it came with
what I am assuming was its mate.

The first one was at least l6" long, as well as I could tell, and probably larger if I had a better way to measure it. Instead of being the sleek, streamlined body of a blue jay, though, It was extremely large, very thick bodied. It had no gray over its shoulders, and was an extremely brilliant blue. Its mate, as I assumed it to be, was about the same length, but she was thin bodied and very brilliant blue like the other one.

Within about two hours, there was an entire flock of 15 or more of these giant scrub jays sitting in the trees. My peanut supply had to be restocked several times throughout the day.

As evening came, the entire flock flew away to the west.
For the next several days this flock of scrub jays "on steroids" as I have termed them, would come by pretty much in masse. Every evening they would fly off to the west.

What was really strange, I began to notice, was that the typical infighting that my neighborhood jays did for the territory of the feeders was almost totally nonexistant between these birds. Pretty soon I saw them actually feeding right along with my little chickadees. This was a first for me, because it is as if when the little birds hear a jay, they immediately flock to my neighbor's or take off rapidly toward the east.

So my questions begin here: Does anyone have any knowledge that will help me understand these new guests to my yard?

Again, they are almost 1\2 again the size of my regular jays, the colors of the more prominent leaders are extremely brilliant blue, they co-exist within their own flock as well as with the little ones that have been regulars here since I first hung out my first feeder, I assume it's the males that are very thick bodied as apposed to the thin trimness of the others.

I think they are about ready to leave for back to wherever they call home, because they are beginning to leave to the east, especially as evening approaches, and would really like someone to help me before they leave.

Also, they eat all the sunflower seeds and other seeds in the special blue jay mix that I have been buying that my local jays ignore.

If anyone could help, I would appreciate it. We have tried to take pictures, but have only gotten one poor quality picture of one of the smaller ones.

How far do scrub jays range when there is an extreme weather change? I am assuming they come from somewhere around Mt. Rainier and are soon leaving here to return. Hopefully I can convince them to continue to stay here long enough to get some decent pictures. They are now so used to my going out to replenish their feeders that I can now get close enough to get pictures, but have no knowledge of how to use our new camera.

I would really like to have pictures to support this, but in lieu of them, all I have is my observations.

Anyone who can help me with my "steroidal" scrub jays would be extremely appreciated.

Jan Bonham
Centralia, WA
jvbonham at

More information about the Tweeters mailing list