Jerry P. Clark Fig.1. Scrub (or California) Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
Primary State Biologist
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Sacramento, CA 924271-0001.

Scott E. Hygnstrom
Extension Wildlife Damage Specialist
Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68583-0819

Fig. 1. Scrub (or California) jay, Aphelocoma coerulescens

Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Legal Status

Scrub jays are classified as migratory nongame birds in the Code of Federal Regulations. They may be controlled only under a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Place bird netting over fruit trees, vines, and gardens to exclude jays from the immediate area.


Frightening devices are only moderately effective in protecting crops from scrub jays. Almond and pistachio growers commonly use gas cannons, Av-Alarm® devices, and shooting to frighten or disperse jays.

Repellents and Toxicants

None are registered.


scrub jay trapping
Fig. 2. Scrub jays can be taken by the use of a rat snap trap. Bait the trap with a nut or nut meat and set as illustrated.

Jays can be taken by using conventional rat traps baited with a shelled or unshelled almond or the meat of half an English walnut (Fig. 2). The best location for the rat trap is on a vertical limb of a tree. Nail it high enough in the tree to be out of reach of small children. Beneath the vertical limb there should be a horizontal limb that is frequented by jays. Fasten the trap, trigger down, with the bait about 7 inches (18 cm) above the horizontal limb. The trap will still work if it is placed on a horizontal limb, but other species of birds might accidentally step on the trigger. Other baits may be used. An unshelled almond is probably less likely to attract other birds than are the exposed almond or nut meats. Acceptance of nut baits is not as good when there is an abundant supply of ripe fruit or nuts available.

Trapping efficiency has been increased by enlarging the wire bail with a 7-x 9-inch (17.8- x 22.9-cm) piece of 1-inch (2.5-cm) mesh welded wire. Cut a 1-x 4-inch (2.5- x 10.2-cm) slot out of the middle of the welded wire to provide clearance for the trigger release wire and wire it onto the bail. Also consider using a 4-x 6-inch (10.2- x 15.2-cm) piece of sheet metal. Cut a “V” out of the sheet metal (for clearance of the trigger release wire) and fold over 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) of each edge to hold the metal on the bail. The trigger mechanism can also be enlarged by attaching a thin round piece (half-dollar size) of wood. This trap improvement was developed by Bill Clark and Rocky Loop, of the Tulare County, California, Department of Agriculture.

Little success has been obtained in trapping jays with modified Australian crow traps.


Shooting will reduce the number of jays present but it is costly and rather futile as a method of complete crop protection.


Scott E. Hygnstrom; Robert M. Timm; Gary E. Larson

Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage Logo 1994


Cooperative Extension Division Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska -Lincoln

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Damage Control

Great Plains Agricultural Council Wildlife Committee

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