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White-throated Magpie-Jay - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Jon Lowes
Guacimal, Costa Rica, March 2007
Calocitta formosa


Juvenile<br, Subspecies Calocitta />Photo © by pompata Stanley Jones
Bebedero Road near Cañas, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica, 1 July 2023

43 - 56cm (17-22 in). A distinctive jay.

  • Long blue tail with white tips
  • Upperparts and wings blue to blue-grey
  • Small black breast band contrasting with white underparts and white throat
  • Bill and feet black

Sexes similar but females with shorter tail.
Juveniles have an even shorter tail and whiter crowns.


  • Slightly recurved erectile forecrown, blackish in nominate, black-and-white in azurea and pompata
  • Pompata and azurea with whitish face, formosa with more black


Centra and South America: found from central Mexico to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica common resident of North Pacific slope, South to near San Mateo and Orotina, occasionally to Carara.


Black-throated Magpie-Jay has, in the past, been considered a fourth subspecies but is now usually accepted as full species.


Three subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • C. f. formosa:
  • Coastal southern Mexico (Colima, Michoacán and Puebla to Oaxaca)
  • C. f. azurea:
  • Pacific slope of south-eastern Mexico (Chiapas) and Guatemala
  • C. f. pompata:
  • Arid interior of southern Mexico (Oaxaca) to north-western Costa Rica


Thorny scrub, savanna trees, groves near houses, deciduous and gallery forest.


Travels in noisy, straggling flocks of 5-10 through thorny scrub, savanna trees, groves near houses, deciduous and gallery forest.


Eats many fruits, including cultivated varieties and maize; takes eggs and nestlings of other birds, sips nectar from large blossoms of balsa, also eats small frogs and lizards and other insects.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  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

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