There are three recognised races of this species differing slightly from one another in colour and bill size. All live in chaparral scrub-type country and occur as three separate populations, one in the extreme west from Oregon to Baja California, the next in the south western U.S.A. and Mexico, with the last in Florida.
Food is taken both on the ground and in trees. Many insects and other invertebrates are taken, eggs and nestlings, small frogs, mice and reptiles. Acorns are an important food too with grain, berries and other fruits making up the rest of the vegetable matter.
The nest is in a tree or a bush, sometimes quite low down. Usually 2-4 eggs are laid and incubated over 14-16 days.
Like all jays, there is a huge range of sounds and calls but the most commonly heard call is a cheek, cheek, cheek, or a guttural krr'r'r'r'r.