Cyanocitta Stelleri – Steller’s Jay

Cyanocitta Stelleri - Steller's Jay found in the rocky mountains of United States

Western North American and Central American highlands have the Steller’s Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri in Latin. It’s a relative of the eastern blue jay. It is also known as the long-crested jay, mountain jay, or pine jay. It is the only crested jay west of the Rockies. It is sometimes called a “blue jay” in the Pacific Northwest, although it is not the same bird. It inhabits pine-oak and coniferous forests.

Quick Overview: Cyanocitta Stelleri – Steller’s Jay
Body size: Around 11.5 in (29 cm) and a weight of 128 g (4.5 oz)
Main colors: Black, Blue, Gray
Range: Rocky Mountains in the United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Steller’s Jay Description

A corvid’s beak is black, thick, and pointed. The wings, coverts, and rectrices are all dark blue/cobalt. Wings and rectrices exhibit a black barring pattern perpendicular to the feather rachis. The complete head is black, while C. stelleri macrolopha has white stripes on the forehead and supercilium. More unusual C. stelleri plumage. The huge, black crest of Steller’s Jay is distinctive. A sooty gray head and body, with a shorter crest. The sexes are nearly similar, except that females have fainter and narrower bands.

Cyanocitta Stelleri - Steller's Jay found in the rocky mountains of United States
Cyanocitta Stelleri – Steller’s Jay. Photo by: Carl T. Bergstrom


These birds have a length of 11.5 in (29 cm) and a weight of 128 g (4.5 oz). Their wings could range from 17 in (43 cm).


Steller’s Jay eats nuts, pine seeds, and acorns. Like other corvids, Steller’s Jays eat other birds’ eggs. To hunt on the ground or in trees. Scavenging is known to occur, mainly in established locations and campgrounds. During the winter, Steller’s Jay feeds on seeds and nuts, but they may also scavenge and eat small invertebrates.


Coniferous and deciduous forests are home to Cyanocitta stelleri. The habitat is 1000-3500 meters above sea level. Although Steller’s Jay is not a migratory bird, it is known to do so in the winter.


The Steller’s Jay is a social bird. The size of the flock is variable, and partners rarely separate. Because they flock often, they display agonistic tendencies. One method involves violent battle while flying. Soar upwards, trying to grab each other’s feet while pecking each other’s bills. Aggressive Sidling and crest displays are also used to show social standing. The Steller’s Jay extends its wings in surrender.

Cyanocitta Stelleri Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Genus: Cyanocitta
  • Species: Cyanocitta stelleri

Other common names

It is also known as the long-crested jay, mountain jay, or pine jay.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Steller’s Jay in the USA

Mostly a resident of coastal southern Alaska, east through British Columbia, and south through Mexico and into Central America, from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains. During the winter, wanders further east, as far as western Kansas.

The Steller’s Jay can be found in the following states in the United States – Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Cyanocitta Stelleri – Steller’s Jay

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