Photo: Sid & Shirley Rucker/Vireo

Green Jay

Cyanocorax yncas

Unmistakably tropical, the Green Jay enters our area only in southern Texas. There it is common in native woods and mesquite brush. Around some parks and refuges it is very tame, coming to picnic tables for scraps; but at other places it can be elusive, and surprisingly hard to see despite its bright colors. Green Jays live in pairs or social groups at all seasons, communicating with each other with a bizarre variety of different calls.
Conservation status Probably declined in southern Texas with initial loss of habitat, but current population seems to be stable or increasing.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Brush, woodlands. In Texas, most common in dense native woodlands in the lowlands dominated by acacia, ebony, and hackberry; also lives in more open mesquite brush and stands of short oaks, and in some suburbs with native vegetation nearby. In the tropics, often in humid forest in foothills and lower mountain slopes.
Unmistakably tropical, the Green Jay enters our area only in southern Texas. There it is common in native woods and mesquite brush. Around some parks and refuges it is very tame, coming to picnic tables for scraps; but at other places it can be elusive, and surprisingly hard to see despite its bright colors. Green Jays live in pairs or social groups at all seasons, communicating with each other with a bizarre variety of different calls.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages by moving actively through trees and shrubs, examining the foliage for food; drops to the ground for some items, and sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air. Cracks open hard seeds and nuts by pounding them with bill. Will come to bird feeders for a variety of items.


Eggs

3-5. Pale gray to greenish white, heavily spotted with brown and lavender. Incubation is by female only, about 17-18 days. Male may feed female during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 19-22 days after hatching. Young remain in parents' territory through nesting season of following year, then are evicted. In some tropical areas, these one-year-olds help with feeding young in nest, but apparently those in Texas do not.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 19-22 days after hatching. Young remain in parents' territory through nesting season of following year, then are evicted. In some tropical areas, these one-year-olds help with feeding young in nest, but apparently those in Texas do not.

Diet

Omnivorous. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, true bugs, wasps, and many others. Also eats spiders, centipedes, small rodents, lizards, eggs and young of small birds. Feeds on plant material including various seeds, nuts, berries, and small fruits.


Nesting

Pair or family group may defend territory throughout the year. Nest: In Texas, site is in dense tree or shrub, usually 5-15' above the ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky but loose cup of sticks, thorny twigs, lined with rootlets, grass, moss, and sometimes leaves.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident. Rarely wanders any distance from nesting areas.

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Migration

Permanent resident. Rarely wanders any distance from nesting areas.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Variety of rattling calls. Also shink, shink, shink.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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