Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma wollweberi)


French: Geai du Mexique German: Mexikohäher Spanish: Chara mexicana

Aphelocoma wollweberi


, 1855,

#R, Zacatecas, Mexico; restricted to Valparaíso Mountains


Until recently considered conspecific with A. ultramarina, but molecular evidence#R points to a split, and this is just supported by relatively understated phenotypic characters: differs in its paler blue upperparts, with blue on crown extending less far onto mantle (2); slightly less pronounced vague streaking on throat (1); rather smaller size (effect size for tail length in males −2.4, score 2); slightly shorter call in W taxa (arizonae, nominate; proposed W Mexican form gracilis subsumed into latter) (1) with slightly higher minimum frequency (1); and considerably shorter call in E taxa (couchii, potosina) (2) with notably lower minimum frequency (2)#R. Difference in call of E taxa, which are rather smaller and genetically fairly distinct, presumably reflects their unique possession of “rattle call”#R. Races represent three groups, otherwise differing mainly in depth of colouration and in size. Nominate wollweberi intergrades with arizonae to N. Four subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. w. arizonae (Ridgway, 1874) – S USA (SE Arizona and SW New Mexico) S to N Mexico (N Sonora and NW Chihuahua).
  • A. w. wollweberi Kaup, 1855 – Arizona Jay – SE Sonora and SW Chihuahua S in Sierra Madre Occidental to W Zacatecas, Nayarit and NW & N Jalisco.
  • A. w. couchii (S. F. Baird, 1858) – Monterrey Jay – extreme S USA (Chisos Mts of extreme SW Texas) S in Sierra Madre Oriental to S Nuevo León and N San Luis Potosí.
  • A. w. potosina Nelson, 1899 – San Luis Potosi Jay – EC Mexico (San Luis Potosí S to C Hidalgo).
  • Descriptive notes

    28–32 cm; male 84–150 g, female 77–137 g. Small, chunky, crestless jay, dull bluish above and dingy below, with fairly heavy, pointed bill; bill length... read more


    Not formally studied. Like other corvids, has soft “whisper-song”, begging calls, and... read more


    Montane mixed woodland with oak (Quercus) and pine (Pinus) or juniper (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous; seasonal specialist on pine and oak crops. Diet nuts, fruits, seeds, nectar; invertebrates; small vertebrates, e.g. lizards,... read more


    Nestbuilding begins late Feb and early Mar, and laying late Mar to early Apr (rarely through Jun) in S USA (Arizona); repeated nesting... read more


    Resident. Dispersal extremely limited, but rare long-distance movements and wanderings of vagrants... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common throughout range; global population estimate 2 million individuals. In Arizona, average size of home range 0·36 km... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma wollweberi). 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 14 December 2019).