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Mexican Jay - BirdForum Opus

Eastern Mexican Jay, A. u. couchii
Photo by ixodid
Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA, April 2005

Alternative Names: Gray-breasted Jay; Ultramarine Jay

Aphelocoma wollweberi


28 - 32cm. The Mexican or Gray-breasted Jay, is a larger, stockier member of the genus of "scrub-jays":

  • Dark bluish head with black lores and darker area around eye
  • Bluish-purple upperparts
  • Brownish-grey underparts
  • Paler throat
  • Brown eye
  • Black bill and legs

Sexes similar, females are slightly smaller. Juveniles are mouse-grey above.

Similar species

Similar to the other scrub-jays like Woodhouse's Scrub Jay but lacks collar or sharp contrast between throat and belly and has no white supercilium.


Western Mexican Jay, A. u. arizonae
Photo by Gus Hallgren
Madera Canyon, Arizona, USA, April 2008

In US, resident in south-eastern Arizona and a part of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Also northern to central Mexico. Common in its range.


This species has been split from Transvolcanic Jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina).


Mexican Jay (Western)

  • A. w. arizonae:
  • A. w. wollweberi:
  • Mountains of western Mexico (south-eastern Sonora to Durango, Zacatecas and n Jalisco)
  • A. w. gracilis:
  • Mountains of west-central Mexico (eastern Nayarit and northern Jalisco)

Mexican Jay (Eastern)

  • A. w. couchii:
  • Mountains of extreme south-western Texas to southern Nuevo León and central Tamaulipas
  • A. w. potosina:
  • Mountains of east-central Mexico (San Luis Potosí to Querétaro and central Hidalgo)


Oak forests and canyons.


A resident species.


An omnivorous feeder. Takes nuts, fruits, seeds, nectar, invertebrates, small vertebrates like lizards or small birds and carrion. Where available also scraps provided by humans. Caches nuts to feed on through the winter. Especially in July and August caches thousands of poine seeds and acorns.


These jays have a highly developed social system, with one or two dominant breeding pairs leading an extended family flock of up to 20 birds. The younger members act as nest helpers. The bulky nest is made of dead twigs and placed 4 to 24 m above the ground in a leafy tree. Lays 1 - 5 eggs.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  3. Paper describing genetic findings with this species
  4. Birdforum thread discussing among other things the split of Transvolcanic Jay and Mexican Jay

Recommended Citation

External Links

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