Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Brown Jay (Cyanocorax morio)


French: Geai enfumé German: Braunhäher Spanish: Chara papán

Pica morio


, 1829,

Alvarado, Veracruz, Mexico


Often separated in monospecific Psilorhinus, but included in current genus following findings of recent phylogenetic study#R. Has hybridized with C. formosus in S Mexico. Two morphs, largely random in occurrence, white-tipped morph found at relatively high frequencies in arid and mesic regions, brown-tailed morph predominating in more humid areas; in Mexico, white-tipped morph, formerly treated as a separate species, “C. mexicanus”, recorded N to C Veracruz (Plan del Río, 19°12’ N), and brown-tailed morph found S to Montecristo, in Tabasco. Proposed race cyanogenys (Pearl Cay Lagoon, in Nicaragua) included in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. palliatus (van Rossem, 1934) – extreme S USA (lower Rio Grande Valley, in extreme SE Texas), E Mexico (Nuevo León and Tamaulipas S to Veracruz).
  • C. m. morio (Wagler, 1829) – SE Mexico from coastal plain of C Veracruz S to E Tabasco, SW Campeche and N Chiapas (Palenque), S in Central America to W Panama (Almirante Bay region).
  • C. m. vociferus (S. Cabot, 1843) – N Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Descriptive notes

    38–44 cm; 173–224 g. Large jay with short bristly frontal crest somewhat inconspicuous, rather plush-like feathering on lores and around eye, highly graduated... read more


    Small repertoire. Most frequently heard is a loud "pay-ah" or "peer", with... read more


    Mosaic of habitats, from coastal areas to 2500 m, with notable preference for disturbed areas (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes insects, spiders (Araneae), lizards, nectar of banana and balsa flowers, and fruits, especially those of Castilloa elastica... read more


    Eggs recorded in Mar–Jun, with peak in Apr. Social nester, but breeding behaviour varies more than in other co-operatively breeding... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of its range. Recently reported from El Salvador. Has benefited from forest fragmentation, which has created more open areas; this... read more

    Recommended citation

    dos Anjos, L. (2019). Brown Jay (Cyanocorax morio). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).