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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#48: Western Scrub-Jay - Cabrillo National Monument, CA

It’s the second lifer I got in California. The first, of course, was a big Western Gull hanging out on a light post on San Diego Airport. However, just afterwards I headed down to the Famosa Slough in residential Point Loma, and I didn’t get past the parking lot before a bird hopped off the ground and into a nearby bush. I’d never seen it before, but the blue and gray patterns were totally unmistakeable – it was a Western Scrub-Jay.

Out East we only get one kind of jay, and it’s pretty much the exact opposite of its West Coast relative. The Blue Jay is a positively gaudy bird, bright blue with a flamboyant crest, but its personality really sets it apart. Blue Jays are loud, raucous birds that will call from the tops of trees, and mob large raptors with great audacity, yet are strangely skittish around humans. The Western Scrub-Jay however is rarely seen more than a couple feet off the ground, preferring to hang out in bushes. And, unlike its bluer cousin, I found the Western Scrub-Jays of San Diego incredibly inquisitive and quite confident around people.

I would say they look cooler than Blue Jays... but I mean, come on, Blue Jays!

Apparently, they seem to enjoy parking lots. Like my first sighting, James and I pulled up to the parking lot of Cabrillo National Monument and immediately we found this guy calling his heart out. It’s hard to go anywhere in California without hearing the rawk! of a Western Scrub-Jay, and lucky for us East-coasters, they happen to be awesome and confiding!

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