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Transvolcanic Jay - BirdForum Opus

Photo by gustavorpg
Forest of Tlalpan, DF, Mexico, March 2008
Aphelocoma ultramarina

Identification

28 - 32cm. 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.

Distribution

Central Mexico from Colima east to Veracruz.

Common in its range.

Taxonomy

Mexican Jay (Aphelocoma wollweberi) has been split from this species.

Subspecies[1]

  • A. u. ultramarina:
  • Southern Mexican Plateau (Jalisco to Michoacán, Puebla and western Veracruz)
  • A. u. colimae:
  • Mountains western Mexico (north-western Jalisco to north-eastern Colima)

Habitat

Oak forests and canyons.

Behaviour

A resident species.

Diet

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

Breeding

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 24m above the ground in a leafy tree. Lays 1 - 5 eggs.

References

  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

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