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Steller's Jay

Scientific classification
Binomial name
Cyanocitta stelleri

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a jay of western North America, closely related to the Blue Jay found in the rest of the continent, but having a black head and upper body.

Steller's Jay shows a great deal of regional variation throughout its range. The general trend is for blackish-brown-headed birds from the north gradually becoming bluer headed the further south you go. It has a more slender bill and longer legs than the blue jay and has a much more pronounced crest. The head is blackish-brown with light blue streaks on the forehead. This dark colouring gives way from the shoulders and lower breast to silvery blue. The wing primaries and tail are a rich blue with darker barring.

It occurs over virtually the whole of the western side of North America from Alaska in the north, to Central America in the far south and east to south-western Texas, completely replacing the Blue Jay in most of those areas. It lives in coniferous and mixed woodland but not in completely dense forest without any open spaces.

Food is taken from both the ground and in trees taking the usual wide range of seeds, nuts, berries and other fruit. Many types of invertebrates, eggs and nestlings are taken and acorns and conifer seeds form a staple at some times of the year.

The nest is usually in a conifer but can sometimes be in a hollow in a tree and is otherwise very similar to the Blue Jay's nest. There are between 2-6 eggs laid.

Like all jays, the calls are varied but a harsh nasal 'wah' is given as an alarm call as well as many rattles and guttural sounds too numerous to mention.

This bird is named after the German naturalist Georg Steller.

Steller's Jay is the provincial bird of British Columbia.