Tufted Jay Cyanocorax dickeyi

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Corvidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Meredith Kittelson and Cameron K. Ghalambor



The flight of Tufted Jay is described as strong and buoyant, with constant wingbeats.

Tufted Jay is a highly social bird and throughout much of the year lives in groups ranging anywhere from 4-16 birds (Crossin 1967). Larger flocks have been found in areas with wide ravines supporting large shade trees and dense understory. During the breeding season the foraging is done in smaller groups; flocks break into smaller units around March. In the nonbreeding season, foraging primarily occurs in two bouts, a morning session of four to five hours, and a shorter session from early afternoon until dusk; long periods of preening and resting occur during the middle of the day (Crossin 1967).

Tufted Jays rarely forage on the ground, spending their time in the tree canopy (Crossin 1967). Foraging individuals investigate bromeliads and various other epiphytes for berries, seeds or acorns. They tear the bromeliad cups apart in order to gain access to food trapped inside (Crossin 1967). Agave inflorescences and grassy rocks also are commonly investigated. Jays sometimes visit flowers to prey on insects drawn to the nectar (Crossin 1967). Tufted Jays cache food by burying it in the ground or storing it in trees. To open nuts, they will grasp the nut with their feet and use their bill as a chisel.

During the breeding season, flocks make numerous short trips away from the nest. This is in contrast to pre-breeding season foraging trips, which usually consisted of fewer, longer feeding excursions (Crossin 1967).


Tufted Jay flocks are territorial and actively defend breeding and foraging areas. They frequently attack predators with vocalizations and harassment. Flocks are generally located close to other flocks, but the flock territories rarely overlap. There are no data, however, on the sizes of home ranges or territories for Tufted Jay.

Sexual Behavior

Tufted Jays breed in cooperative groups that usually consist of one breeding pair, with perhaps other adults as well, and one or more second year birds (Crossin 1967).

Social and interspecific behavior

Tufted Jays are social, intelligent, bold and noisy birds, although during the breeding season they are more silent. Throughout much of the year they remain in groups of 12-15 individuals. Members of these groups can remain together throughout the year or even over several generations. Tufted Jays are often accompanied by Steller’s Jays (Cyanocitta stelleri).


No reports of predation on Tufted Jay?

Recommended Citation

Kittelson, M. and C. K. Ghalambor (2014). Tufted Jay (Cyanocorax dickeyi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.tufjay1.01