Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)


French: Geai de Steller German: Diademhäher Spanish: Chara de Steller

Corvus stelleri

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

in Sinu Natka Americae borealis = Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada


See C. cristata. Subspecies groups based largely on geographical parameters and on details (length, colour) of crest. Race suavis intergrades with lazula; latter poorly differentiated, possibly better merged with ridgwayi; races teotepecensis and ridgwayi sometimes included in coronata. Sixteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. stelleri (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Coastal Steller's Jay – S Alaska and coastal British Columbia S to NW Oregon.
  • C. s. carlottae Osgood, 1901 – Queen Charlotte Is (off British Columbia).
  • C. s. frontalis (Ridgway, 1873) – C Oregon S through mountains to E California and WC Nevada.
  • C. s. carbonacea Grinnell, 1900 – N & C California (counties of Marin, Contra Costa and Monterey).
  • C. s. annectens (S. F. Baird, 1874) – Rocky Mts of interior British Columbia and SW Alberta (Canada) S in USA to E Washington, Idaho, Montana, E Oregon and Wyoming.
  • C. s. macrolopha S. F. Baird, 1854 – S Rocky Mts from S Wyoming S to Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, E to SW Nebraska and W Texas, and S to N Mexico (N Sonora and Chihuahua).
  • C. s. diademata (Bonaparte, 1850) – Interior Steller's Jay – Sierra Madre Occidental from SE Sonora and SW Chihuahua S to Durango and Jalisco; also E Coahuila, E Nuevo León and W Tamaulipas#R.
  • C. s. phillipsi Browning, 1993 – C Mexico (SC San Luis Potosí).
  • C. s. purpurea Aldrich, 1944 – SC Mexico (N & C Michoacán).
  • C. s. coronata (Swainson, 1827) – Southern Steller's Jay – E Mexico (SE San Luis Potosí and N Veracruz S to Puebla).
  • C. s. azteca Ridgway, 1899 – WC Veracruz S to México, Morelos and W Puebla.
  • C. s. teotepecensis R. T. Moore, 1954 – high mountains of C & S Guerrero, in S Mexico.
  • C. s. restricta A. R. Phillips, 1966 – Oaxaca, in S Mexico.
  • C. s. ridgwayi W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – highlands of SE Mexico (Chiapas) and adjacent Guatemala.
  • C. s. lazula van Rossem, 1928 – N El Salvador and SW Honduras.
  • C. s. suavis W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – highlands of NE El Salvador, Honduras and N Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–34 cm; 100–142 g. A robust, vibrant blue-and-black jay with flashy crest that is erected to convey dominance and aggression; short, stout bill slightly hooked... read more


    At least twelve distinct calls, along with flock-specific calls and frequent mimicked sounds (e.g.... read more


    Forests and woodlands, including deciduous forest, temperate rainforest and humid coastal forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Takes fruits, seeds, berries, arthropods, small vertebrates, and discarded household scraps (e.g. bread, meat); preys on... read more


    Nest-building begins in Mar and reaches peak in Apr throughout C of range, eggs mid-Mar to mid-Jul. Pair-bond appears stable and permanent... read more


    Resident. May make eruptive movement in poor food years or migrate seasonally from high to lower... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Most populations appear locally stable or increasing slightly. Lives in variety of human-dominated landscapes, including those with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Marzluff, J. (2019). Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri). 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 24 May 2019).