|Conservation status||Still widespread and common.|
|Family||Crows, Magpies, Jays|
|Habitat||Conifer and pine-oak forests. Most numerous as a breeder in the mountains and along the northern coast in forests of pine, spruce, and fir; also lives in pine-oak forest, and locally in riverside groves of oaks and other deciduous trees. Especially when not nesting, will range into other woodland types, orchards, and well-wooded suburbs.|
Forages mostly high in trees but also low or on ground. Opens hard seeds and acorns by pounding on them with bill.
4, sometimes 3-5, rarely 2-6. Pale blue-green, finely spotted with brown or olive. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 16-18 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight not well known, about 3 weeks.
Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight not well known, about 3 weeks.
Omnivorous. Diet is about two-thirds vegetable and one-third animal matter. Feeds heavily on pine seeds, acorns, and other nuts and seeds, especially during fall and winter; also eats many berries and wild fruits, sometimes cultivated fruit. Especially in summer, eats many insects, including beetles, wasps, and wild bees. Also eats spiders, birds' eggs, table scraps, sometimes small rodents or lizards.
In courtship, male feeds female. Adults are quiet and secretive while nesting, but become noisy and aggressive if nest is threatened. Nest site is in tree, usually coniferous; sometimes in deciduous tree or shrub. Height varies, usually 10-30' above the ground, sometimes lower or much higher. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky ragged cup of twigs, weeds, moss, dry leaves, cemented together with mud and lined with fine grass, rootlets, and pine needles. Bits of paper often added to nest.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Often a permanent resident, but may move to lower elevations in winter. Occasionally stages large invasions into lowlands, perhaps when food crops fail in the mountains.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA harsh shack-shack-shack-shack or chook-chook-chook call reveals its presence. May also mimic the screams of hawks.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Steller's Jay
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Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Steller's 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.