Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Dawn Beattie

Farewell, Western Scrub-Jay!

We have an important update for you those of you living in the Western Scrub-Jay’s range: this species was recently split into two distinct species. Perhaps you have noticed differences between the “coastal” form (now the California Scrub-Jay) and the “interior” form (now Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay); the California Scrub-Jay is darker and described as having a bold personality, while the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay is paler, has a thinner bill, and tends to be more shy and inconspicuous.

The American Ornithologists’ Union has been considering this split for several years. The split became official after genetic research demonstrated that the two species rarely interbreed where they come into contact with each other in western Nevada. In most of California, and all of Oregon and Washington, you will be reporting California Scrub-Jays from now on. If you live in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, or Texas, then Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are the scrub-jays you’re seeing.

What do you need to do?
In most cases, nothing. As always, NestWatch will only show you geographically-relevant species when you are entering your nests, so unless you live in the small range of overlap in western Nevada, your species menu will highlight the appropriate choice. We will soon be updating historical nest records to reflect this change, so you do not need to edit previous records. We could really use photos of both species’ nests and eggs, so we’re asking everyone with photos to please share them with us.