Common Name: Steller's Jay
Species: Cyanocitta stelleri
photo M. Noonan
Stellerís jay belongs to the
family, Corvidae, in the Avian Order Passeriformes.
Passeriformes is the order of perching birds. Corvidae
is the jay, magpie and crow family. The Steller's jay's
scientific name is Cyanocitta stelleri. The generic
name, cyanocitta, means "blue jay". Its specific name,
stelleri, named for George W. Steller (1709-1746).
Steller was a German zoologist who explored the coastal
areas of the northern Pacific Ocean in 1740.
This jay is characterized by its
thick bill and feathery crest. Black feathers cover the
head and crest, continuing about halfway down the back.
The rest of the body is dark blue, with black ridges on
the wing feathers. Juveniles have sooty gray coloration
on their heads. Jays weigh 3-5 ounces, with a wingspan
of about one foot.
Steller's Jay Habitat/Diet
The range of Stellerís jay begins
far north in Alaska, stretching south along the Rocky
Mountains to the southwestern United States and Central
America. The Pacific coast marks the western limits of
the range, while the eastern edge of the range extends
no further than Colorado. Coniferous forests are
preferred at elevations from 3,000-10,500ft. However,
deciduous are inhabitable. Jays do not migrate to warmer
regions during the winter, instead moving to lower
elevations for seasonal cooling.
Seeds are the primary dietary
component of Stellerís jay. Nuts and acorns are also
favored. Like other corvid species, Stellerís jay feeds
on the eggs of other birds.
Stellerís jays are social birds.
Flocks form often. Aggressive behaviors towards other
jays are not uncommon. Mobbing is a defensive maneuver
of Stellerís jays to ward off predators. A large group
of birds flies aggressively towards the predatory bird,
protecting their territory and young by warding off the
This species is monogamous. Both
birds will build the nest and care for the young.
Females will incubate 2-6 eggs for 16 days. The young
fly at 3 weeks of age. The lifespan of the Stellerís jay
is about 10 years.
Steller's Jay Conservation
Stellerís jay is not endangered.
It is numerous throughout its range. However, if care is
not taken to preserve its habitat from human
interference, Stellerís jay may one day face extinction.