How to Build Scrub Jay Nest Boxes

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The scrub jay may be confused with a blue jay or Stellar's jay because of his blue coloring, but the scrub jay doesn't have any crests on his head like the other two blue birds. The scrub jay has a beautiful blue color and bold, animated personality, making him a favorite among bird-watchers.

Western Scrub Jay

There are different scrub jays, but the Western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) is more commonly sited than the Florida or island scrub jays. The Western scrub jay is also known as the California scrub jay. The species is native to the West, most commonly within oak woodlands of California and low- to mid-density residential areas of Washington. It's not uncommon to find man-made nest boxes for Western scrub jays in the yards of bird lovers and enthusiasts.

Natural Nests

Western scrub jay parents will make their nest out of twigs, rootlets, plant fibers and animal fur. The twigs are used to form a basket-shaped exterior; the fur and fine plant fibers are used for a soft interior. Western scrub jays prefer to make their nest in oak woodlands, but if this habitat is not available, they will make their nests in a variety of areas to include urban settings, riparian and coastal scrubs. The nest usually is placed about 3 to 33 feet off the ground within small shrubs or trees. The nest will average about 6 inches across, taking both the male and female scrub jay about 10 days to complete the nest.

Open Platform Nest Box

The scrub jay's nesting habits are similar to the blue jay's; when building a nest box for a scrub jay, the requirements are quite similar to that of a blue jay. Because scrub jays nest in trees, an open platform will attract the species. This type of nest box will have three sides -- top, bottom and back -- leaving the front and sides open. You want to cut the top and back pieces at an angle so that the ceiling is sloped. The floor should be about 8 inches square, and the back should be cut so there is at least 8 inches between the top and bottom.

Enclosed Nest Box

Although enclosed birdhouses are best suited for birds that nest within tree cavities, this type of birdhouse can be an option for a scrub jay. You can build a simple nest box that's about 8-by-8-by-12 inches. The hole to the birdhouse should be 1 1/2 inches wide and about 6 inches from the floor. Drill quarter-inch holes on the sides of the box for ventilation. When mounting the birdhouse, place it about 6 feet from the ground with the opening pointed away from the afternoon sun.

Threatened Scrub Jays

The Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is restricted to the Florida oak scrubs and flatlands. The island scrub jay (Aphelocoma insularis) is native to the oak woodlands, dry scrubs and pine forests of the Santa Cruz Island. Because of their restricted habitats, both the Florida and island scrub jays are listed as threatened species.

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