15 years of waiting

Posted August 5th, 2010 by kcorliss. Comment (0).

Back in 1995 the AOU split the ubiquitous scrub jay into three separate species. One, the western scrub jay is fairly widespread in, ahem, the west. The other two are quite limited in their range.

The Florida scrub jay occupies a narrow niche along the east coast of Florida and is a bird I have seen a couple of times.

That left one, the island scrub jay, which is extremely limited. It occupies only one island off the California coast–Santa Cruz. And unless you are a boat owner, a friend of a boat owner, or can afford to charter one, your best option is to hop on one of Island Packers’ ferries out to the Channel Islands. They leave from either Ventura harbor or Oxnard.

Last Friday I and the rest of my family did just that and were greeted with great views of the last jay I needed for my life list in the US.

Notice the bands on the legs? These birds have apparently been studied extensively by researchers. These jays are very noticeably larger than their mainland cousins. In addition they are darker with much larger bills.

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