A permanent resident from the Lower Rio Grande Valley in extreme southern Texas to northwestern Panama (Shifflett 1975, dos Anjos 2009). Brown Jays generally are restricted to the east coast of Central America, but Brown Jay also occurs on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica (Skutch 1960, Stiles and Skutch 1989). The total geographic distribution of Brown Jay is estimated at 675,000 km2 (BirdLife International 2012).
Occurs from sea level to 2500 m (dos Anjos 2009) with the highest population densities below 600 m (Skutch 1960).
Distribution outside the Americas
Endemic to the Americas.
Common in humid lowland Caribbean forest and disturbed secondary growth, such as edges of plantations with low vegetation (Skutch 1960). Generally avoids primary forest and forest interior. Also found commonly in willow and cecropia trees near rivers and on edge of tropical deciduous forest (Skutch 1960, dos Anjos 2009). In Monteverde, Costa Rica birds occurs in woodlots and ravines with low wet montane forest and in open banana and coffee plantations (dos Anjos 2009). In eastern Honduras and northern Nicaragua, Brown Jays occupy mature and young forest as well as open coastal habitat and mangroves (dos Anjos 2009).
The first Brown Jay specimen collected in the United States was collected in 1987 in southern Texas and suggests Brown Jays previously bred in more northern latitudes in Texas (Hubbard and Miles 1975). Populations expanded into the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica in the early 1960s after the highland plateau was clear cut for dairy farming and have since become abundant residents (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Williams et al. 1994). Also recently reported in El Salvador (Komar 1998).
Fossil record is poorly known. A Pleistocene fossil from Florida of a large jay, Henocitta brodkorbi, is considered most closely related to the Brown Jay on the basis of morphological characteristics (Holman 1959).
Jones, M. F. (2012). Brown Jay (Psilorhinus morio), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.brnjay.01