Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Near Threatened

Island Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis)

Following the taxonomy applied to HBW Alive, derived from the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, this taxon is now lumped within Western Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica).


French: Geai de Santa Cruz German: Inselhäher Spanish: Chara de Santa Cruz
Other common names: Santa Cruz Jay

Aphelocoma insularis


, 1886,

Santa Cruz Island, California, USA


May form a superspecies with A. californica and A. coerulescens, and the three previously treated as conspecific; present species derived from coastal clade of former. Relationships of this group with A. ultramarina and A. unicolor yet to be resolved, as recent studies indicate that divergence of these three major lineages within the genus was apparently rapid, leading to conflict among genetic markers. Monotypic.


Santa Cruz I (SW California), in SW USA.

Descriptive notes

33 cm; male 100–147 g, female 100–117 g. Smallish, crestless, long-tailed jay, primarily grey-blue in colour, with disproportionately large bill, broad head, long... read more


Extensive repertoire of at least eleven calls. Both sexes defend territory with loud, harsh "... read more


Preferentially inhabits chaparral dominated by low-growing oak (Quercus), and oak woodland... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous. Diet includes acorns, invertebrates, and occasional small vertebrates; takes bird eggs and nestlings. Acorns a very important... read more


Laying from early Mar to early Jun, nestlings Apr to mid-Jun. Socially monogamous, pair-bond mostly permanent (c. 10% of bonds break... read more


Resident. Occasionally moves up to 650 m to local food resources, e.g. fruiting oak trees. Non-... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near-threatened. Global population conservatively estimated in 1997 at 12,500 individuals, with (7000 breeders), but currently... read more

Recommended citation

Marzluff, J. (2018). Island Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 November 2018).