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Steller's Jay

Cyanocitta stelleri ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CORVIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Steller

A large, dark jay of evergreen forests in the mountainous West. Steller’s Jays are common in forest wildernesses but are also fixtures of campgrounds, parklands, and backyards, where they are quick to spy bird feeders as well as unattended picnic items. When patrolling the woods, Steller’s Jays stick to the high canopy, but you’ll hear their harsh, scolding calls if they’re nearby. Graceful and almost lazy in flight, they fly with long swoops on their broad, rounded wings.

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Songs

  • Male song
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Calls

  • Calls
  • Calls (mimicking Red-tailed Hawk)
  • Calls
  • Calls
  • Calls
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

To attract Steller’s Jays to your feeders, put out peanuts or other large seeds and nuts as well as suet. If you see jays hogging your feeders and taking large numbers of seeds, they may be carrying some away to store in a cache to help them get through the winter.

Find This Bird

Drive into the mountains, and as soon as an evergreen canopy closes over your head you can start looking for Steller’s Jays or listening for their scratchy, scolding calls. Also keep an eye out around feeders, backyards, picnic tables, and campgrounds, where they are probably already watching you, sizing up their prospects for a handout.

Get Involved

Watch for Steller’s Jays foraging for peanuts and larger seeds at your bird feeders – then send us your observations as part of Project FeederWatch or during the Great Backyard Bird Count each February.

Enhance your yard for jays and other birds. Visit our web pages on feeding and attracting birds.

Learn more about bird photography in our Building Skills section. Then contribute your images to the Birdshare flickr site, which helps supply All About Birds and our other websites with photos.

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Two Jays, from East and West: Scientists have a lot to learn about these bold birds.

Explore sounds and video of Steller's Jays from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive

Downloadable "Common Feeder Birds" poster from Project FeederWatch (PDF)

Find in-depth information on Steller's Jays and all of North America's breeding birds for as little as $5 in The Birds of North America Online (Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists' Union).