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Tufted Jay Cyanocorax dickeyi

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


Geographic Variation

Cyanocorax dickeyi is monotypic.

Related Species

Described as Cyanocorax dickeyi Moore 1935; type locality Rancho Batel, 5 miles N.E. of Santa Lucia, Sinaloa, Mexico , 5200 feet [1585 m]

This species was named in honor of Donald J. Dickey, whose "unflagging interest in the birds and mammals of northwestern Mexico and his generous financial support of the work of the California Institute [of Technology] in that area, render this attribution particularly appropriate" (Moore 1935: 274).

The genus Cyanocorax is a morphologically and ecologically diverse group, and the position of C. dickeyi has been of long interest given its restricted distribution. Delacour (in Amadon 1944) suggested that dickeyi was most closely related to White-tailed Jay (Cyanocorax mystacalis) of Ecuador and Peru. Haemig (1979) went so far as to suggest that dickeyiwas recently derived from mystacalis that were transported from South America to Mexico in pre-Columbian human trade; an obvious implication of this theory, acknowledged by Haemig (1979: 96), is that dickeyi and mystacalis would have been diverging for only hundreds of years. A phylogenetic analysis of morphological (primarily skeletal) characters also concluded that dickeyi and mystacalis were sister species (Hope 1989).

Recent genetic work, based on DNA sequence data from two mitochondrial genes (NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 and cytochrome b) and from three nuclear loci (the adenylate kinase intron, the ß-fibrinogen intron 7, and TGFß2.5) demonstrates that Cyanocorax is not monophyletic (Bonaccorso et al. 2010). These authors recovered two clades among Cyanocorax and related genera. Most species of Cyanocorax formed one clade (their Clade B), whereas the other clade (Clade A) consisted to four species of Cyanocorax as well the genera Psilorhinus (Brown Jay) and Calocitta (Black-throated and White-throated magpie-jays). Cyanocorax dickeyi belongs to Clade B, along with most species of Cyanocorax. Cyanocorax mystacalis also is a member of Clade B, but, while its position is unresolved, it is not related to dickeyi. Cyanocorax dickeyi is basal to a clade of South American species that includes Cyanocorax cyanus (Cayenne Jay), Cyanocorax chrysops (Plush-crested Jay), Cyanocorax cyanopogon (White-naped Jay), Cyanocorax heilprini (Azure-naped Jay), and Cyanocorax affinis (Black-chested Jay) (Bonacccorso et al. 2010) .

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.