Wednesday 18 June 2014

First Confirmed Breeding Western Scrub-Jays In B.C/Canada.

June 18 2014 Corner of York and 119th Ave Maple Ridge, BC Canada

After first consulting one of Canada's best birders I have been told that these pictures constitute the first record of Western Scrub-Jays successfully breeding in BC.

A pair of Western Scrub-Jays have successfully fledged two young in Maple Ridge. The pair nested in 2013 but lost their young to predators when their nest was built too near to the ground. After overwintering in Maple Ridge they built a new nest in a taller cedar hedge and despite a large number of black squirrels and crows the young have survived. The fledgling seem to be strong and robust albeit a little skittish. The parents have moved them about a hundred metres from the original nest to a holly bush which itself is in a stand of dense evergreen. The birds are in a private garden but do come out to the road where they can be viewed sitting on branches and telephone wires. Meanwhile adult birds periodically return with peanuts, which the adult birds have stashed away in a monkey puzzle tree across the road.

Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
An adult feeds one of the two young with a peanut.
I have been told by the property owner that all other birds have been chased away from the garden since the fledglings and adults moved in yesterday.

*A juvenile Western Scrub-Jay looks out toward the street. Behind me would be the Monkey Puzzle tree where the adults could be seen retrieving peanuts. Tamron 150mm-600mm handheld at 600mm D7100 VR enabled. 

Two juvenile Western Scrub-Jay wait for the adults to appear with  food, mostly peanuts.

Technical details:
I used the Tamron 150mm-600mm and D7100 for picture #2, #1 and #3  are on the 500mm F4 and D3s. Pictures 1 and 3 were in the deep shade on (auto ISO 2000) while the other was taken from the road in full diffused light at 1000 ISO. Any remember Kodak 64 and 200, haven't things changed for the better?
Why two cameras? I set one up for the holly bush shots while I wandered around handholding the Tamron which resulted in the extra shots including pic #2 and some of the bird in the monkey puzzle tree.

Stay tuned as I do not have any more details but have been told it is a good 'find' and possibly the first confirmed breeding Western Scrub-Jays in B.C. Cool Eh!

Birding and the World Cup can co-exist, who knew!

John Gordon


  1. Great find John, as cool as it would be to see more Scrub Jays would they create a problem with the more established birds?
    Nick Balachanoff

  2. Wow, great find! Do you use eBird? ( If so, I'd definitely report your sightings on there, and make sure you use the breeding code 'recently fledged young'. It would be flagged as rare, because it is.
    If you see here, there are records in BC, but I can't find any that are breeding.

  3. I will report the finding to e-bird this afternoon and thanks for the breeding code info. I just love how birding keeps popping up surprises like this.
    Interesting comment Nick, we'll just have to see as there might not be enough nuts for them to survive and at the moment there are a number of feeders in the area providing peanuts. The young did look quite hungry but healthy. Thanks for reading the blog.

  4. Congratulations John. Excellent find.

  5. Great work John!