Beautiful Types Of Jay Birds

Written by Niccoy Walker
Published: November 27, 2022
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When discussing birds, if you hear the word jay, don’t you automatically think of a blue jay? And while most jays are indeed blue, there are many different species. Jays are medium-sized birds from the crow (Corvidae) family; most are noisy and colorful. Jays come in three categories: brown (Old World) jays, grey jays, and American jays. Some of the most stunning jays reside in the Americas, often featuring bright, contrasting colors and elegant feathers. Read on to learn more about this captivating family of birds including how to identify them and where they live.

Blue Jay

Blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are beautiful, with sky blue to deep blue plumage, and white faces and undersides. The blue jay has a black collar around its throat that extends up to its face, though each individual has unique markings. Their multi-hued blue wings are strongly barred with black and white. They also feature pronounced head crests, which they can raise and lower depending on their mood.

Juvenile Blue Jay, left frame, perched on a  silver (top) rusted(below) round feeding tray, with its back to the camera. The blue bodied bird is looking right. Its wing and tail feathers are barred, contrasting bright blue with a darker hue of blue. The darker hue is narrower, creating the bar-like pattern.  It has a dark blue to black pointed beak and dark eyes. indistinct green background

Blue jays have multi-hued blue wings are strongly barred with black and white.

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©Eleanor McDonie/

Blue jays are native to North American, found throughout Southern Canada, and Eastern and Central United States. They range as far south as Texas and Florida and can occasionally be spotted in the Pacific Northwest. Most populations are sedentary in their habitats, with Southeastern Canadian jays moving farther south for winter. Blue jays live in a variety of habitats, including mixed woodlands and spruce-fir forests.

Azure Jay

The azure jay (Cyanocorax caeruleus) is the largest South American corvid. Azure jays weigh almost ten ounces and are 16 inches long. This species is an intense bright blue body, with deeply contrasting black heads, throats, and chests. The only difference between male and female azure jays is their size; females are slightly smaller. 

A vivid blue azure jay with a black head is center frame perched on a  tree branch that is smooth and tan with areas of green. The bird its looking left.

The azure jay has an intense bright blue body, with a deeply contrasting black head and chest.


These birds have a small range in South America, where they live in the Atlantic Forest. They live Southeastern Brazil, Eastern Paraguay, and Northeastern Argentina, in the humid forest canopy, feeding on araucaria seeds, insects, and fruit. The azure jay is also highly intelligent, and forms organized groups with well-structured hierarchies.

Steller’s Jay

The Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is closely related to the blue jay, with plumage variation based on its range. Northern populations have black and brown heads, while farther south the jays have blue heads. They have light streaks on their heads, silvery-blue breasts and backs, and rich blue tails and primary feathers. The Steller’s jay has a flashy crown, a slender bill, and long legs. 

A Stellar's jay, center frame perched on a rock. The bird is tufted with a black tuft atop its black head. its bod is a relatively dull grey/blue compared to the vivid bright blue of its wings and tail, which are barred with slender black bar. Out-of-focus rocky background

The Steller’s jay is the only species of crested jay west of the Rockies.


Unlike the blue jay, this species is found in the Western United States and the mountains of Central America. They live in pine-oak and coniferous forests and are the only species of crested jay west of the Rockies. This jay has a varied diet, feeding on seeds, nuts, berries, insects, and small rodents. Stellar’s jays are not shy, and will scavenge picnics and campsites, if given the opportunity.

Green Jay

Green jays (Cyanocorax yncas) have distinctive bright plumage. Their bodies are a rich green color above and bright yellow to pale green below, with bluish-green tails. Their heads are deep blue with black necks, but some subspecies have yellowish-white head feathers. Some populations have dark brown irises, while others have bright yellow.

Center frame: A Green Jay perched on a naked grey/brown tree limb. The bird incredibly lovely with a bright  blue face, a black throat, a lime tree -to- yellow body, and a canary yellow tail. The bird is facing the camera, looking left. Out-of-focus nature  background of green and brown.

Green jays live in Central America but can venture as far north as Southern Texas


These green birds live in Central America but can venture as far north as Southern Texas and as far south as Honduras. Green jays live primarily in woodlands and shrublands, where they forage on a wide variety of insects and grains.

Plush-Crested Jay

The plush-crested jay (Cyanocorax chrysops) is a medium-sized corvid with an elegant appearance. These South American birds have rich, dark royal to navy blue plumage, with a yellowish-cream colored breast and tail tip. They also have deep black, fluffy-looking crests atop their heads and bright yellow irises.

Full frame close-up of a plush-crested jay facing right.The bird has a black crest and mask with bright blue accents and round yellow iris  with a round black pupil. The top beak is blue, though the bottom beak is black The birds throat and chest are black, its body light yellow. Though its wings are folded, they appear to be bright blue. Indistinct light mauve background.

The plush-crested jay (

Cyanocorax chrysops

) is a medium-sized corvid with an elegant appearance.

©jo Crebbin/

These striking birds live in South America in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and the Southern Amazon River Basin. Plush-crested jays reside in wooded and forested areas near headwaters, including rainforests. They spend their days foraging for fruits, insects, eggs, snakes, and frogs.

Pinyon Jay

Pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) are highly social North American birds. Their bodies are a shadowy blue color with royal blue heads, greyish-blue undersides, and white throats. They are medium-sized birds with relatively short tails (compared to a miniature crow) and long, dagger-like bills. 

Full frame of a pinyon jay, perched on a pine tree,  its back toward the camera, facing right. It is mostly grey/blue, though its head is noticeably bluer than the rest of it. It appears to be disgruntled, judging from th look on its face. But it may just be stoic.

Pinyon jays are native to Western North America, from Oregon to Mexico (Baja California) and as far east as Oklahoma.

©Agami Photo Agency/

This species is native to Western North America, from Oregon to Mexico (Baja California) and as far east as Oklahoma. They reside in pinyon pine forests near foothills, where they forage for seeds in large, tightly packed flocks. Pinyon jays are frequent visitors to backyard feeders. To attract them to your yard, provide sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanuts, and suet.

Of note: The pinyon jay is the only member of the genus Gymnorhinus.

White-Naped Jay

The white-naped jay (Cyanocorax cyanopogon) is rare and largely unstudied. They are medium-sized corvids endemic to tropical and subtropical lowland forests in Brazil. They have long, narrow tails and broad, pointed bills. Adults are medium-brown above and white below, with black heads and light markings on their eyebrows. The white on their chests extends around the backs of their necks and heads, and a short black crest rests atop their heads. Their tails are brown, but the clipped tails are dipped in white. 

Full frame of a white-naped jay, facing right, with its beak open, as if talking, The bird is mostly black with a white underbelly, and a barely visible whiteness about its nape (back of its head). The bird has a round black pupil in the center of a round yellow iris. The bird is perched on a naked tree limb, Indistinct grey/white background.

The white-naped jay is rare and largely unstudied.

©Pedro Helder Pinheiro/

Beautiful Jay

Beautiful jays (Cyanolyca pulchra) live up to their name, featuring a stunning cyan-colored body that transitions to sky blue as it reaches the neck and fades to white at the forehead. They have black face masks and dark grey breasts. Their legs and bills are all black. Males and females appear similar, though females have a more brownish tinge on their upper bodies. 

a beautiful jay - its actual name and not a descriptive. center frame, looking right, perched on a tree branch that is covered with vegetation  - moss, perhaps. the bird is vivid blue with a black mask. The top of its head is a lighter shade of blue, to almost white at the crown . Its tail is also blue and faint bars of a darker hue are visible on its tail

Beautiful jays (

Cyanolyca pulchra

) live up to their name, featuring a stunning cyan-colored body.

©Uwe Bergwitz/

This species is scarce and unstudied, inhabiting montane and cloud forests in Colombia and Ecuador. They prefer to live in marshy areas within the forest, but they are becoming more infrequent due to habitat loss and human disturbance.

Lidth’s Jay

The Lidth’s jay (Garrulus lidthi) is a gorgeous Asian bird closely related to the Eurasian jay, although it is slightly larger with a longer tail and broader bill. Lidth’s jays have rich, chestnut brown bodies, and deep purple-blue tails and wings. Their heads transition from purple to black, and their bills are a light grey to pale yellow. 

A Lidth's jay center fram, perched on a dowel , or some other uniformly cylindrical long piece of wood. The bird has a black fac,e a blue nape and mantle, a rusty-to-rosy underbelly and shoulder/top of wing, which turns blue (middle) to deep blue/black tip. The tail is longish and appears to be blue. Indistinct lime green background, probably grass.

. Lidth’s jays have rich, chestnut brown bodies, and deep purple-blue tails and wings


This species is native to a very limited region on the Japanese Islands of Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima. They live in pine forests, subtropical woodlands, and cultivated areas around villages. This jay nests in large tree cavities, and its diet primarily consists of nuts from native evergreen trees.

Tufted Jay

The tufted jay (Cyanocorax dickeyi) is a large jay endemic to a restricted area in the mountains of Northwest Mexico. They live in pine-oak forests, foraging in small, tight-knit groups throughout the canopy, often associating with steller’s jays. 

Left of center frame a tufted jay is perched off a tree branch with green  spade-shaped leaves. The bird has a Snow White body and tail, black wing (only the right wing is visible) a black throat, and a white face with a black mask. Its beak is pointed and black, and its eye is round wiyj a yellow iris, punctuated with a round black pupil. Minimally focused Green  leaves make up the right half of the frame. Indistinct natural background.

The tufted jay is a large jay endemic to a restricted area in the mountains of Northwest Mexico.

©Agami Photo Agency/

This species is striking and unmistakable. Tufted jays have stiff black crests on their heads and snow-white bodies with deep blue backs and wings. The tufted jay has a unique black face mask and bright yellow irises. Its long tail appears to have been dipped in white. Not much else is known about this species, but their diet is likely to that other jays, comprised of insects, seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries. 

Azure-Hooded Jay

The azure-hooded jay (Cyanolyca cucullata) is a mysterious species native to Central America, that is difficult to observe in the wild. This species is relatively large, and adults are primarily a dark blue color. They have black heads and upper chests with sky-blue crowns and napes. Their legs and bills are black, their irises are dark red. Males and females look almost identical. 

Center frame perched on a tree branch with a bit of moss hanging from it is  bird facing right. the bird has a dark blue (navy) body and tail,.Its face and crown are black. The back of its head is a very light blue-to-grey. Out-of=focus green background.

The azure-hooded jay is a mysterious species native to Central America.

©[[File:Cyanolyca cucullata Santa Elena.JPG|Cyanolyca_cucullata_Santa_Elena]] – License

This jay lives in Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama, inhabiting humid evergreen forests. You can often find them near forest edges in the middle to upper tree canopies. Like other jays, the azure-hooded jay is loud, social, and highly intelligent. They spend their days eating carrion or foraging for berries and seeds.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © feathercollector/

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Florida State College. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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