Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay Portrait in the Stansbury Mountains

/, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, Utah, West Desert, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays/Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay Portrait in the Stansbury Mountains

It isn’t often that I am able to get close enough to a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay that my only option is to take closeup portraits of them yet that is precisely what happened to me two days ago. In fact this has never happened to me before.

Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay portrait in junipers, Stansbury Mountains, West Desert, Tooele County, UtahWoodhouse’s Scrub-Jay portrait in junipers – Nikon D500, f10, 1/320, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

I’m certain I could get a shot like this at a feeder but I very rarely photograph at feeders so this was a rare occurrence for me. I do wish that the bright, out of focus juniper branch at the left side of the frame hadn’t been there because I feel it draws my eye away from the scrub-jay momentarily and that the sun hadn’t been quite so high.

Still, I love looking at this Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay’s eye, feathers and even the rictal bristles near the bill. The out of focus juniper in the background does not bother me nor does the patch of blue sky at the upper left side of the frame.

This bird was so close that I thought my images of it might be not quite sharp because I thought it might be closer to me than the minimum focusing distance of my lens but I think it was just outside of that limit since the bird is quite sharp.

Who knows, maybe I will get luckier the next time I have a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay fly in so close.

Life is good.


Some Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay facts:

Aphelocoma woodhouseii used to be Western Scrub-Jay  Aphelocoma californica

  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays are medium sized, crestless jays with blue heads, wings and tails, gray masks, backs and light gray underparts. Their tails are long.
  • They are nonmigratory, year round residents.
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays prefer juniper and pinyon or piñon pine habitat.
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays eat insects, lizards, fruits, pine nuts, acorns, grass seeds, juniper berries and nuts. They readily eat other seeds and peanuts offered at bird feeders.
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays lay 2 to 7 eggs which hatch in 15 to 17 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
  • A group of jays can be called a “party”, “scold” or “band” of jays.
  • Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays can live up to 15 years.


  1. Pepe Forte September 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Magnificent. What a perfect shot! Thanks Mia.

  2. Marty K September 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I miss the scrub jay family that used to nest in my neighbor’s bamboo.

  3. Elephants Child September 13, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Your portraits always blow me away.

  4. Anita Austin September 13, 2018 at 10:50 am

    It’s a great shot. At first glance, I thought it was a carving or a metal mold. The light is glancing off the feathers and bringing out every detail. The extraneous things in the background are insignificant.

  5. Liz Cormack September 13, 2018 at 6:44 am

    OMGosh…..no, the juniper branch did not draw my eyes away from this gorgeous portrait. I actually had to look at the photo again to see the branch you were talking about.

  6. Kathy September 13, 2018 at 6:05 am

    Excellent photo! Love the layering of the feathers and all the details!

  7. Kim September 13, 2018 at 5:57 am

    Wow! It’s an amazing shot and your juniper bush was NOT a distraction.

  8. Joan Carey September 13, 2018 at 5:52 am

    WOW! Simply stunning!

Comments are closed.