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White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa



  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the White-throated Magpie-Jay
eBird range map for White-throated Magpie-Jay

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

The white-throated magpie-jay ranges from central Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, to central Costa Rica, in thorn forest and dry forest habitats on the Pacific Slope. Strict elevational limits have not been defined, and expansions upslope have occurred where deforestation creates suitable habitat.

Distribution outside the Americas

Not found outside Central America.


In northwestern Costa Rica and southwestern Nicaragua, the magpie-jay prefers deciduous tropical dry forest. An edge specialist, it thrives in cattle ranches and at the edges of towns where isolated nesting trees can be found. However, optimal habitat seems to be a combination of open land for nesting and dry forest for feeding. Magpie-jays may be particularly dependent on ant-acacias for dry-season forage: territories with acacia stands are more productive (Langen & Vehrencamp 1998).

However, as the species spreads south, east and higher in elevation, the preference for dry forest clearly diminishes, since these areas currently lack this habitat. Here, human settlements may provide the optimal combination of isolated nesting trees and food sources.

Historical changes

Historically, White-throated Magpie-jays ranged only as far south as the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and remained in lowlands on the Pacific Slope. Recent deforestation has allowed the species to spread south beyond Parque Nacional Carara, where it is now recorded regularly, and upslope on the Pacific Slope to at least Santa Elena, below the Monteverde Rainforest.

Fossil history

No information. Fossils of Henocitta (Holman 1959) and Protocitta (Brodkorb 1957; Weigel 1967)  from Pleistocene Florida and Texas are closest to Calocitta and Psilorhinus


Recommended Citation

White-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta formosa), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: