Western Scrub-Jay name change to California Scrub-Jay

From Vectorborne Disease Section – California Department of Public Health
March 19, 2018

Over a year ago, the Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) was given a new common name: California Scrub-Jay. In CalSurv Gateway, the Western Scrub-Jay is now listed as the California Scrub-Jay. All previous records of the Western Scrub-Jay are unaffected and will be found under California Scrub-Jay.

Due to differences in range and coloration, the Audubon Ornithological Society split the Western Scrub-Jay into two species: California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii) (also added to CalSurv). In general, Woodhouse’s has less intense coloration than the familiar California Scrub-Jay. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are mainly found in Nevada and the “four corners” states. But Woodhouse’s can be found in Mono, Inyo, and eastern San Bernardino counties, and a few agencies in these counties may find Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay.    

You can see a comparison of the two species here:


(You may also want to review the Pinyon Jay: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pinyon_Jay/)

In summary, our popular jay is now the “California Scrub-Jay.” But if you are in Mono, Inyo, or eastern San Bernardino counties, the jays you encounter may be Woodhouse’s Jays. (Or possibly Pinyon Jays). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website is one of the best resources to help identify birds.