Common Name (preferred): Steller's Jay
Scientific Name: Cyanocitta stelleri
Size (weight, length & wingspan) English & Metric: Weight—3.7oz (105g), Length—11.5" (29 cm), Wingspan—19" (47.5 cm)
Habitat: Pine-oak woodlands and coniferous forests
Diet: Seeds, insects, carrion, eggs, baby birds, & young rodents
Predators: Raptors (owls and hawks)
The Steller's Jay ranges west of the Rockies from Alaska to Mexico. Often found in higher elevations of pine-oak woodlands and coniferous forests, they will occasionally drop to lower elevations during the winter.
Jays are omnivorous but feed mainly on seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. However, they will also kill nestlings and scavenge. Steller's Jays can be easily found in picnic areas begging for food.
A Steller's Jay will often announce its arrival with a loud, clamorous call. The Rocky Mountain subspecies is also famous for flaring its white eyebrows when behaving aggressively. They are very good at imitating other birds, especially Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, flickers, squirrels, and cats.
All jays mob predators. Owls and hawks can sometimes be found by following agitated jays and crows.
At one time the ranges of the Steller's Jay and Blue Jay did not overlap. Because of the increased feeding of birds in these picnic and campground areas, the range of the more shameless Blue Jay has steadily moved westward and now overlaps the Steller's Jay's. This new human-caused problem is negatively impacting Steller's Jays, and in many places they are being displaced by the Blue Jay.
When and where to see at Bryce:
Erlich, Paul R. et al. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American Birds, Simon and Schuster/Fireside Books, New York
Ryser, Fred A. 1985. Birds of the Great Basin: A Natural History. University of Nevada Press
Sibley, David Allen. 2001. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Knopf Publishing
Last updated: June 1, 2022