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Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri


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Steller's Jay
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Corvidae, Crows, Magpies, Jays view all from this family

Description ADULT Has dark sooty gray back and nape, and mainly blackish head. Length of erectile crest varies and some subspecies have colored feathers at base: crest is longest in birds from southern Rockies, which also have basal whitish feathering; coastal birds have shorter crests, with some blue basal feathering. Plumage is otherwise dark blue, with variable extent of dark laddering on wings and tail according to subspecies. JUVENILE Similar, but duller and browner overall.

Dimensions Length: 12-13 1/2" (30-34 cm)

Habitat Common resident of coniferous forests and mixed woodland. In some years, birds are irruptive south and east in fall and winter.

Observation Tips Take a picnic to the forest and Steller's Jays will soon visit you.

Range California, Texas, Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Plains, Western Canada, Southwest, Northwest

Voice Utters a range of calls including a chattering rattle and a harsh sch'Eck.

Discussion Western counterpart of Blue Jay that is darker and more uniformly colored overall. Note the conspicuous crest. Bold, inquisitive, with opportunistic feeding habits and eclectic diet, making it a familiar resident of most campgrounds. Typically lives in flocks of a dozen or so birds outside the breeding season. Sexes are similar.