Steller’s Jay – Profile | Fly | Facts | Range | Feather | Traits | Eggs

Steller's Jay

The Steller’s Jay, scientific name Cyanocitta stelleri is a hanging bird with deep blue and black plumage and a long, shaggy crest. The front of its body is black, and the rear is deep blue. The black extends halfway down its back and down its breast.

Steller’s Jay profile

It has faint, darkish barring on its wings. Adults have blue vertical ‘eyebrows’ above every eye. The juvenile seems just like the adult, however has a barely browner head and lacks the blue eyebrows of the adult. The inland kind has a small white patch over the attention.

Geographic Range

Starting from the southern coast of Alaska, the range extends constantly southward by the Rocky Mountain area of the western United States into Mexico, and scatters by Central America, terminating in north-central Nicaragua. The western fringe of the distribution lies alongside the Pacific coast and reaches eastward so far as eastern Colorado.


Steller’s Jay is a bird native to western North America, intently associated with the blue jay present in the remainder of the continent, however with a black head and higher body.

It is also called the long-crested jay, mountain jay, and pine jay. It is the one crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains. It can also be generally colloquially known as a “blue jay” within the Pacific Northwest, however, is distinct from the blue jay (C. cristata) of eastern North America.

Like different jays, Steller’s Jays are daring, inquisitive, intelligent, and noisy. Steller’s Jays spend a lot of their time exploring the forest cover, flying with patient wingbeats. They come to the forest flooring to analyze visitors and search for meals, shifting with decisive hops of their long legs.

A typical bird of western forests. Steller’s Jay is most quite a few in dense coniferous woods of the mountains and the northwest coast, the place its darkish colors mix in nicely within the shadows.

Except when nesting it lives in flocks, and the birds will usually fly throughout a clearing one after the other, in single file, giving their low shook-shook calls as they swoop as much as perch in a tall pine.

Steller’s Jay Description

Adult C. stelleri average in size starting from 30 to 34 cm., with a mass of 100-140 g. The wingspan varies from roughly 45 to 48 cm.

Distinguishing traits embody a black, thick, pointed bill typical of corvids. Coloration consists of darkish blue/cobalt plumage all through a lot of the body, together with the wings, coverts, and rectrices.

The wings and rectrices additionally possess a pattern of black barring, perpendicular to the rachis of the feathers.

The total head is normally black, though sure subspecies equivalent to C. stelleri macrolopha could have white streaks alongside the brow and supercilium. Other races have even additional deviations from typical C. stelleri plumage.

Perhaps essentially the most conspicuous attribute of C. stelleri is the presence of a tall, black crest. Juveniles are distinguished by a sooty grey coloring on the pinnacle and body, in addition to a shorter crest.

The sexes are practically monomorphic, aside from fainter and narrower bars within the barring pattern of females.

Steller’s jay is about 30–34 cm (12–13 in) long and weighs about 100–140 g (3.5–4.9 oz).

Steller’s jay exhibits a great deal of regional variation all through its range. Blackish-brown-headed birds from the north step by step change into bluer-headed farther south.

The Steller’s jay has a more slender bill and longer legs than the blue jay and has a lot more pronounced crest. It can also be considerably bigger.

The head is blackish-brown, black, or darkish blue, relying on the latitude of the bird, with lighter streaks on the brow. This darkish coloring provides an approach from the shoulders and decreases breast to silvery blue.

The primaries and tail are a wealthy blue with darker barring. Birds within the eastern part of its range alongside the Great Divide have white markings on the pinnacle, particularly over the eyes.

The birds additional west have light blue markers, and birds within the far west alongside the Pacific Coast have small, very faint, or no white or light markings in any respect.

Steller’s Jay Behavior

The Steller’s Jay is an extremely social species. Flocks of varied sizes kind usually, with mates not often parting. As a consequence of frequent flock formation, C. stelleri has a number of types of agonistic behavior. One kind includes aggressive combating whereas flying within the air.

The two birds concerned will fly upward, and try to understand one another with the feet whereas pecking one another with their bill. Crest shows and an act known as Aggressive Sidling are additionally used for establishing social standing. Steller’s Jays use wing spreading to specific submission.

Steller’s Jays additionally use antipredator shows, with mobbing (gathering in giant numbers to vocally harass and fly at predators)the first type of protection.

Typical predators embody accipiter hawks equivalent to Cooper’s Hawks. Vocal communication is pretty complicated, with calls together with a harsh “shack, shooka” sound, and mimicry of a red-tailed hawk. The song consists of a reason to tender warble.

Behavior Ground ForagerSteller’s Jays transfer round with daring hops of their long legs, each on the ground and among the many spokelike predominant branches of conifers. They pause usually to eye their environment, cocking their head with sudden actions this fashion and that.

Jays have unimaginable spatial reminiscences and Steller’s Jay’s store surplus meals in caches. They additionally raid the caches of Clark’s Nutcrackers and different jays.

Steller’s Jays are frequent nest predators, stealing eggs and chicks from the nests of many species. They are very social, touring in teams, generally enjoying with or chasing one another, or becoming a member of mixed-species flocks.

One of essentially the most vocal species of mountainous forests, Steller’s Jays sustain an operating commentary on occasions and infrequently instigate mobbing of predators and different probably harmful intruders.


Steller’s Jays are giant songbirds with giant heads, chunky bodies, rounded wings, and a long, full tail. The bill is long, straight, and highly effective, with a slight hook. Steller’s Jays have an outstanding triangular crest that usually stands practically straight up from their head.


Cyanocitta stelleri primarily reside inside coniferous forests, although deciduous forests are additionally chosen.

The altitude of habitat location ranges between 1000-3500 meters.

Although C. stelleri are non-migratory birds, migration from high to decrease elevation is thought to happen through the winter season.

Conifer and pine-oak forests. Most quite a few as a breeder within the mountains and alongside the northern coast in forests of pine, spruce, and fir; additionally lives in the pine-oak forest, and domestically in riverside groves of oaks and different deciduous timber.

Especially when not nesting, will range into different woodland sorts, orchards, and well-wooded suburbs.

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At a distance, Steller’s Jays are very darkish jays, missing the white underparts of most different species. The head is charcoal black and the body is all blue (lightest, nearly glowing, on the wings). White markings above the attention are pretty inconspicuous.

Steller’s Jay Diet

Omnivorous. Diet is about two-thirds vegetable and one-third animal matter. Feeds closely on pine seeds, acorns, and different nuts and seeds, particularly throughout fall and winter; additionally eats many berries and wild fruits, generally cultivated fruit.

Especially in summer, eats many bugs, together with beetles, wasps, and wild bees. Also eats spiders, birds’ eggs, desk scraps, generally small rodents or lizards.

Steller’s jays are omnivores; their diet is about two-thirds plant matter and one-third animal matter. They collect meals each from the ground and from timber.

Steller’s jay’s diet features a wide range of seeds, nuts, berries, and different fruit. They additionally eat many sorts of invertebrates, small rodents, eggs, and nestlings equivalent to these of the marbled murrelet. There are some accounts of them consuming small reptiles, each snake and lizards.

Acorns and conifer seeds are staples through the non-breeding season; these are sometimes cached within the ground or in timber for later consumption. They exploit human-provided meal sources, steadily scavenging picnics and campsites, the place it competes with the Canada jay.

Steller’s jays will go to feeders and like black-oil sunflower seeds, white striped sunflower seeds, cracked corn, shelled raw peanuts, and are particularly drawn to entire raw peanuts. Suet can also be consumed however principally within the winter season.

Food Habits

Cyanocitta stelleri are omnivorous, with a diet consisting primarily of nuts, pine seeds, and acorns. Like different corvids, Steller’s Jays eat the eggs of different birds.

Foraging takes place on the ground and inside the timber. Scavenging can also be recognized to happen, most of which happens inside developed areas and campgrounds.

During winter, C. stelleri rely on seeds and nuts, although they might additionally scavenge and even prey upon small invertebrates that occur to be energetic inside the habitat on the time

Forages principally high in timber but in addition low or on the ground. Opens exhausting seeds and acorns by pounding on them with the bill.

Steller’s Jay Reproduction

Steller’s Jays are monogamous. They carry out a display upon preliminary encounters known as Sexual Sidling. After a mate has been chosen, each people take part in choosing a site and constructing the nest.

The nest is a cup construction, sometimes made up of mud and sturdy materials equivalent to thick plant fibers, twigs, and rootlets. The location of the nest is above the ground inside timber.

The height normally ranges between 3-12 m., although decrease nests have been discovered. Females have the flexibility to put one egg per day, with the clutch ranging between 2-6 eggs.

The incubation time is roughly 16 days. The feminine could do all of the incubation, though it has been claimed that males may incubate.

The charge of the growth of the younger after hatching shouldn’t be utterly recognized, although the first molt in all probability takes place after 2 weeks, whereas flight is assumed to first happen after Three weeks.

Steller’s Jay Eggs

4, generally 3-5, not often 2-6. Pale blue-green, finely noticed with brown or olive. Incubation is usually or completely by the feminine, about 16-18 days. Young: Both parents convey meals for nestlings. Age of younger at first flight not well-known, about Three weeks.


Both parents convey meals for nestlings. Age of younger at first flight not well-known, about Three weeks.


In courtship, male feeds feminine. Adults are quiet and secretive whereas nesting, however, changes into noisy and aggressive if the nest is threatened.

Nest site is in a tree, normally coniferous; generally in deciduous tree or shrub. Height varies, normally 10-30′ above the ground, generally decrease or a lot higher.

Nest (constructed by each sex) is a cumbersome ragged cup of twigs, weeds, moss, dry leaves, cemented along with mud and lined with superb grass, rootlets, and pine needles. Bits of paper usually added to the nest.

Steller’s Jay Conservation

Low ConcernSteller’s Jay populations remained comparatively stable, displaying some native declines, between 1966 and 2015, in keeping with the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Partners in Flight estimates worldwide breeding inhabitants of two.8 million with 70% occurring within the U.S., 9% in Canada, and 18% in Mexico.

Steller’s Jay charges an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species.

It shouldn’t be on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List. Read more about great-skua-stercorarius-skua-bird-profile.

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