While I often call it “Blue Jay”, it’s just not right. This is a California Scrub Jay, a real bully, feeding on small animals, like frogs and lizards, eggs and young of other birds, but also grains, nuts, and berries. What’s worse, it’s regularly waking me up. On Wikipedia, its “screech” is described as “harsh and scratchy“. I think it’s just obnoxious and not an alarm sound anyone would select on their smartphones.
The California scrub jay is nonmigratory, but in recent years has expanded its range all the way up to British Columbia. Its lifespan is approximately 9 years and it is for certain the smartest bird in my backyard.
The brain-to-body mass ratio of the scrub jays rivals that of chimpanzees and is dwarfed only by that of humans. Scrub jays are also the only non-primate or non-dolphin shown to plan ahead for the future. They can remember locations of over 200 food caches, as well as the food item in each cache and its rate of decay.