Exploring 15 Types Of Jay Birds

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Think ‘Jay,’ and you probably picture a Blue Jay, right? But there’s a whole world of jays beyond that iconic blue. Part of the crow family, these medium-sized, often vibrant birds are not just colorful but also quite vocal.

They mainly fall into three types: brown (Old World) jays, grey jays, and American jays, renowned for their striking colors and graceful feathers.

Jays stand out as the noisiest and most colorful members of the Corvidae family, which includes crows and ravens. Known for their intelligence, these birds have strong bills and enjoy a varied diet, particularly peanuts.

North America alone is home to at least ten different types of jays.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of jays to discover their varieties, how to spot them, and where they call home.

Types of Jays

Discover the vibrant diversity of jays with our comprehensive list showcasing the different types of these fascinating birds.

1. Blue Jay

The Blue Jay, a striking bird native to eastern North America and Newfoundland, Canada, is known for its vivid blue plumage and social nature, often seen in flocks. These adaptable birds thrive in various environments, from forests to urban parks.

Blue Jays are eye-catching with their blue and white plumage, unique black throat collars, and black-and-white barred wings. Their expressive head crests add to their distinctive look.

They have a varied diet, favoring nuts, fruits, seeds, and insects, thanks to their strong bills.

Notably, Blue Jays are vocal communicators, using a range of calls for different purposes, including mimicking hawks to alert of predators.

2. Southeastern Blue Jay

The Southeastern Blue Jay, a sub-species found in the US Southeast, including Florida, differs from its northern counterpart with more grey and light blue hues in its predominantly blue plumage.

Both males and females share this coloration and a distinctive black U-shaped collar, with no seasonal changes in their appearance.

3. Island Scrub Jay

jay birds types

The Island Scrub-Jay, unique to Santa Cruz Island off Los Angeles, is distinct from the mainland California Scrub-Jay. It’s larger, with a darker blue hue and a unique call.

Notably vibrant in color, it features a blue nape, crown, wing, and tail, with a white upper breast and a gray-brown back patch.

The Island Scrub-Jay’s large bill is adapted for its diet of thick-shelled acorns, which it caches in the fall to eat later. It also feeds on insects, spiders, reptiles, small mammals, and even other birds’ eggs and nestlings.

4. Western Scrub Jay

jaybird animal

The Western Scrub-Jay, also known as the California Scrub-Jay, is a large songbird with a long tail and hunched posture. It has a stout, hooked bill and sports azure blue and gray colors with a pale underside and a blue necklace.

Its blue hue can vary with lighting. These assertive, vocal birds are often spotted perched high as lookouts.

5. Florida Scrub Jay

jay family

In the sparse Florida scrublands, these intelligent blue and gray jays form lifelong pairs and raise their young with assistance from older or ‘adopted’ juveniles.

They rarely stray far from their nests, fiercely protecting their territory. Their specialized habitat makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change.

6. Brown Jay

jay species

As the darkest among North American jays, these large, loud birds often move in boisterous flocks. They display a cunning side, too, especially in the tropics, where they follow army ants to catch small prey left behind.

Commonly found in Mexico and Central America, this bird has a diverse diet, including insects, spiders, small lizards, rodents, eggs, and nestlings of smaller birds, as well as berries, fruits, seeds, and nectar.

7. Steller’s Jay

jay bird types

The Steller’s Jay, a relative of the Blue Jay, shows plumage variations by region. Northern birds have black and brown heads, while southern ones boast blue heads.

They feature light streaks on their heads, silvery-blue breasts and backs, and rich blue tails and wings. Notable for their flashy crowns, slender bills, and long legs.

Steller’s Jays live from Alaska to Nicaragua, including the western U.S. and Canada’s Rockies. They mostly stay put, but some may migrate in colder winters. Their diet includes seeds, berries, nuts, fruits, and also bird eggs, rodents, reptiles, carrion, and insects.

8. Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

jay bird species

The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, found in southwestern states like Utah, Colorado, and Texas, is easily recognized by its grey breast and belly and white eyebrows. Unlike the California Scrub-Jay, it’s unique to this region.

These Scrub Jays feed on insects, fruits, and seeds, playing a key role in spreading oak and pine seeds by burying them.

Known for forming long-lasting pairs and tight family groups, they often bury seeds for later, contributing to seed dispersal in their habitats.

9. Canada Jay

birds jays

Canada Jays, found in North American forests, are known for their gray feathers and lighter bellies. Often seen following hikers, they’ve earned the nickname ‘camp robbers’ due to their habit of begging for and stealing food at campsites.

Also called Gray Jays or Whiskey Jacks, they have a unique ‘whisper song’ of soft notes and clicks. Common in winter, they nest in conifer trees and may move to warmer areas if it gets too cold.

10. Yucatan Jay

j birds

In the Yucatan Peninsula’s woodlands and forest edges, the common and noticeable bird with black and bright blue plumage stands out, especially since there are no similar species in the area.

Typically found in groups of 5-25, they’re known for their chatty nature. Adults have a black bill, while juveniles and first-year birds have a yellow one. Juveniles briefly sport striking white plumage in late summer before transitioning to the adult-like black feathers.

11. Mexican Jay

bird names that start with j

The Mexican Jay, found from Central Mexico to parts of the southwestern U.S., has blue upperparts and a pale gray belly. These omnivorous birds mainly eat seeds, nuts, insects, and occasionally other birds’ eggs and nestlings.

They’re social, living in groups of up to 12, using various calls for alarms, warnings, and food communication.

12. Amami Jay

jaybirds

Lidth’s Jay, also known as the Amami Jay, is unique to Japan and the only species of its genus Garrulus found there. It is distinguished by its velvety black head, rufous body, velvet remiges with white tips, and ivory-white bill, lacking a prominent crest.

These jays form small flocks of up to 30 birds outside the breeding season. Omnivorous, they eat insects, spiders, reptiles, amphibians, bird eggs, fruits, and seeds, foraging both on the ground and in trees.

13. Green Jay

the jay bird

The Green Jay, a strikingly colorful bird, is a rare sight in the U.S. but can be spotted in Southern Texas. Known for its unique call, it stands out with bright green feathers on its back and vivid blue around its head and eyes, making it one of the most colorful birds in the U.S.

Green Jays are medium-sized birds, measuring up to 29 cm and weighing up to 110 grams, and are known for their loud, alarm-like calls.

14. Unicolored Jay

Unicolored Jay

The Unicolored Jay, a native of the cloud forests in northwestern Central America and southern Mexico, is found from central Honduras to Guerrero, southern Veracruz, and southern San Luis Potosí.

Notable for its cooperative breeding behavior, it’s observed at places like Montebello in Chiapas but doesn’t engage in mating dances.

15. Siberian Jay

birds jays

The Siberian Jay is a captivating bird found in the northern coniferous forests, particularly those rich in old-growth lichens. Its dusky-brown and gray body is accented with cinnamon hues on the sides of its tail, rump, and upper wing patches.

Typically a quiet species, it feeds on a varied diet that includes seeds, berries, carrion, small insects, and occasionally the eggs and young of other small birds. These jays are known for their tameness around humans, often accepting food handouts.

Conclusion

The diverse world of jay birds offers a fascinating glimpse into avian adaptability and beauty. From the vibrant blue of the Blue Jay to the subdued elegance of the Siberian Jay, each species showcases unique traits and behaviors suited to their specific habitats.

Whether they’re known for their boldness around humans or their distinctive calls and plumage, jay birds remain a captivating study of nature’s diversity.

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