September 8, 2016
We have an important update for those of you living in the Western Scrub-Jay’s range: this species is being split into two.
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 more 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, FeederWatchers 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 visiting your feeders.
What do you need to do?
FeederWatchers living in the states mentioned will need to look for the new species’ name on their count list to report scrub-jays they see at their feeders. We will soon be updating historical bird counts to reflect this change, so you do not need to edit previous counts.