skip to content

Psilorhinus morio

Brown Jay

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies

Authors: Jones, Matt, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M. C. Arizmendi

Psilorhinus morio

El Castillo, Heredia, Costa Rica; 21 February 2010 © Luis Vargas Durán

Brown Jay (Psilorhinus morio) is a common and vocal resident of Central America occurring from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas south to northwestern Panama. Brown Jays are relatively large, and predominately are dark brown with a pale buff brown or pale white vent and belly. Two color morphs, plain-tailed and white-tipped, primarily differ in color of retrices: plain-tailed morphs possess an entirely brown tail while white-tipped morphs possess white tips on outer retrices. Brown Jays prefer lowland disturbed forest and edge habitat, generally avoiding forest interior. As a result, many populations are increasing due to deforestation, which increases open area and edge habitat. Brown Jays are extremely aggressive and have been observed fending off and even attacking large predators. They travel in small flocks that consist of one or two breeding pairs, as well as nonbreeding immatures. Brown Jays are highly social and cooperative breeders. The 'helper birds' are key to the reproductive success of the group, increasing the survival of juveniles, and reducing the likelihood of predation. Unique among corvids, Brown Jays possess a bare skin furcular pouch, which is normally hidden by breast and throat feathers but becomes visible when inflated with air during vocalizations. 

Recommended Citation

Jones, Matt, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M. C. Arizmendi. 2012. Brown Jay (Psilorhinus morio), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Gallery forest
  • Foraging Strata:Understory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Pairs/Family Groups
  • Mating System:Cooperative
  • Nest Form:Cup
  • Clutch: 2 - 3
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern