One of the most visible (and audible) of our local bird species are the California Scrub Jays, which are large blue and gray songbirds that can be found throughout the Tehachapi Mountains. Intelligent, noisy and inquisitive, these agile birds are year-round residents here — I saw a Scrub Jay retrieving acorns during a break in last weekend's snow flurries.
Tehachapi residents Chris and Satsuki Jowise enjoy watching the California Scrub Jays (Aphelocoma californica) around their home in Bear Valley Springs, as these active birds move through the oak woodland. This spring, a pair of them were especially noticeable. I'll let Satsuki explain:
"Toward the end of April my husband and I noticed that a couple of Scrub Jays were flying back and forth, burrowing into our pyracantha bush just outside our guest room window, bringing in twigs for the beginnings of a nest. We were excited to see these Scrub Jays move in close enough for us to wait until they weren’t around, and then secure our bird-box nature cam right above their nest.
"Finally, the nest was completed and we watched and waited. After about a week the first egg appeared and then the rest followed in due time. Throughout the month, as we watched we became more and more impressed by this pair of Jays because they both participated in the whole process — building the nest, feeding the partner while sitting on the eggs and together feeding the young hatchlings. They were very devoted parents and they continued to feed and care for the fledglings for another month outside the nest. It was kind of bittersweet to see them go, but we hope they will return to nest again next year."
Here is the observation notes that Satsuki and Chris kept as the nest progressed: "On 4/13/20: Completed building the nest. 4/18/20: Laid 1st egg. 4/19/20: Laid 2nd egg. 4/21/20: Laid 3rd and 4th eggs. 4/22/20: Laid 5th egg. 5/10/20: All but one egg hatched. 5/11/20: Total of four chicks. 5/17/20: Began growing some feathers. 5/19/20: Growing up and getting very hungry. 5/24/20: Eyes are open. 5/26/20: No room for Mama to sleep in the nest. 5/30/20: Starting to look like little Scrub Jays. 6/2/20: The nest is getting too tight and they are getting ready to fledge. 6/3/20: The last one flew out from the nest. 6/3/20: Empty nest. 6/3/20: Still hanging around in the bushes near the nest practicing."
Satsuki and Chris thoroughly enjoyed watching the Scrub Jays and the family they created outside their house. I'm glad that digital cameras have expanded our wildlife viewing opportunities so much. There are many Tehachapi residents who use these cameras to keep an eye on the animals around them.
"We moved to BVS from Philadelphia last fall after we retired," Satsuki says, "So this was our first experience of spring in the Tehachapi Mountains. We’ve been amazed at the diversity of wildflowers and wildlife since we’ve arrived, and we feel very fortunate to live in this area."
Thanks to Satsuki and Chris for sharing their story and photos of a successful California Scrub Jay nesting experience.
Have a good week.
Jon Hammond has written for Tehachapi News for more than 30 years. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.