Natural Sightings #588 - California Scrubs Jays on a Doe.jpg

The two Scrub Jays harvest some of the deer's undercoat hair to line their nest.

Toshimi Kristof took this photo in her yard in Bear Valley Springs of two California Scrubs Jays that had landed on a California Mule Deer doe.

The two Scrub Jays (Aphelocoma californica) were apparently a mated pair who were harvesting some of the deer's undercoat hair to line their nest. Deer naturally shed their undercoat during the warmer weather of spring and summer, so it's likely the doe didn't even feel much of a tug as the Scrub Jays helped themselves to some of her loose hair.

California Scrub Jays typically build stick nests fairly low in oaks or other trees, from about 6 to 15 feet off the ground. The adult jays tend to line their nests with plant fibers and animal hair to make the interior cozy for their clutch of three to five chicks.

The male will bring food to the female, but observers have only noted females incubating the eggs. Like their larger corvid relatives, the ravens, California Scrub Jays generally pair bond year-round and maintain a territory together.

June is the month that California Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus) does tend to give birth to their fawns. Without calling any attention to herself, a doe will separate from her small herd, a group of generally six to 12, or sometimes even more deer.

The expectant mother slips away by herself and gives birth in a secluded area where she can leave her fawn hidden in tall grass. The fawn will remain alone and hidden by itself for most of its first two weeks. The does only return to nurse once or twice a day, minimizing the chances of her revealing the fawn's presence.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to:

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