At a Glance

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.
Category
Crows, Magpies, Jays, Perching Birds
Conservation
Low Concern
Habitat
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Region
Texas
Behavior
Flitter, Hovering
Population
880.000

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Permanent resident. Rarely wanders any distance from nesting areas.

Description

12" (30 cm). Unmistakable in its Texas range. Mostly green, paler and yellower below, with purple and black head, bright yellow outer tail feathers.
Size
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Color
Black, Blue, Green, Yellow
Wing Shape
Broad, Fingered, Rounded, Short
Tail Shape
Long, Rounded, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

Variety of rattling calls. Also shink, shink, shink.
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising
Call Type
Buzz, Chatter, Chirp/Chip, Rattle, Raucous, Scream

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.

Behavior

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.

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.

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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Probably declined in southern Texas with initial loss of habitat, but current population seems to be stable or increasing.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Green Jay. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Green Jay

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.