Fun Steller's Jay Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Steller's Jay facts about the nest, wings, feeding, and breeding of this bird.

Steller's jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) are beautiful birds that are found throughout the forests and mountains of North America, Central America, and the Pacific coast. They have been sighted in cities from Alaska to California.

Steller's jays are one of the only North American jay species that have crests. Their description often talks about the streaks on the forehead, which is a distinguishing feature that they are well known for.

They are known to be agile, aggressive, and protective birds that are most commonly seen together in flocks. They are also known as mountain jays, pine jays, and long-crested jays.

The category of Steller's jays subsumes more than 18 different species spread across California and other regions. So, read on for more info and facts about these birds.

If you enjoy this article, check out the scrub jay and the blue jay.

Steller's Jay Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Steller's jay?

A Steller's jay is a type of bird that is intelligent, bold, and loud. They are small and can often be found in various parts of the Americas, all the way from Alaska to Nicaragua.

What class of animal does a Steller's jay belong to?

Steller's jays belong to the class Aves or birds. One might see them near picnic areas or on bird feeders at camping stations while on a trek or hike.

How many Steller's jays are there in the world?

Although there are differing opinions regarding the number of these birds present around the world, one can estimate that there are tens of millions present. This testimony is given on the basis that they are a rather common type of bird, categorized in the Least Concern category by the IUCN, and are close to other similar species' populations.

Where does a Steller's jay live?

The Steller's jay typically resides in the forest and mountainous ranges present in North America, Central America, and off the Pacific coast. Adult Steller's jays who are foraging for food may also be seen to range near more urban habitats, like the densely populated California coast. They may be seen as individuals or as a part of flocks.

What is a Steller's jay's habitat?

They are commonly found in agricultural areas as well as residential areas that are adjacent to forest terrain. They like to nest on bushes or inside trees and may be found nesting near picnic areas inside a coniferous tree, pine tree, deciduous, or even an oak tree.

Who do Steller's jays live with?

They are a social species; therefore, they like to hang out in a group, often called a family or a flock. They nest high up in the trees, and both male and female Steller's jays build the nest together with mud, dry leaves, twigs, moss, pine needles, fine grass, and paper.

How long does a Steller's jay live?

The average lifespan of a Steller's jay is around 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

Steller's jay adults always stay together in monogamous pairs. During the reproduction period, they tend to stay quiet to avoid attention from other birds or predators. Their process of reproduction is called 'sexual sidling', and Steller's jays select their mates based on their behavior.

The female Steller's jay is only able to give birth to one egg a day and the incubation period lasts for 16 days. The male feeds the female in this case. In certain cases, the male may also incubate an egg.

The clutch has, on average, somewhere between two and six eggs. The nesting period after hatching is also close to 16 days for babies. Breeding can happen at any time of the year.

What is their conservation status?

The Steller's jay is listed as of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. They are quite common North American birds that are found in mountains and coniferous forests.

Steller's Jay Fun Facts

What do Steller's jays look like?

A blue and black-colored stellar's Jay on a snow-covered surface.

Their head is most commonly black, dark blue, or deep gray, mixed with various types of blue, such as cerulean blue; the lower body is a duller version of the same. They have a large head, a bulky body, a long bill and tail, and feathers that are rounded.

How cute are they?

Since they can be aggressive and communicate loudly, it is better to define them as bold rather than cute. However, they are not as loud as woodpeckers.

How do they communicate?

Steller's jays communicate by making various types of loud noises such as screams, rattles, and squawks. They often copy other animals' noises as well, such as the calls of cats, dogs, reptiles, hawks, and thrashers.

Their call is often aggressive, noisy, and disturbing to their young. Their calls can be heard from afar in forests and even in the dark. These birds may be small, but they have a large range when it comes to the noises they can produce.

How big is a Steller's jay?

The height range of a Steller's jay is 6-7in, and their length can vary between 11.8-13.4in. It is comparatively bigger than a blue jay.

How fast can a Steller's jay fly?

Although it is tough to give a concise description of the speed of a Steller's jay's flight, one can assume that since they are quick to protect their young, have pretty sturdy wings, and start flying only three weeks after being born, they must be agile and fast fliers.

The flocks often fly together in a single file over their habitat.

How much does a Steller's jay weigh?

These dark-crested birds do not weigh much and are considered to be pretty light birds by most. On average, their weight fluctuates between 3.5 and 4.90z. Even their eggs and nestlings are very small.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Steller's jays do not have sex-specific names in their species; therefore, they are simply called a male Steller's jay and a female Steller's jay.

What would you call a baby steller's jay?

When they are born, baby Steller's jays are called nestlings. Later on, they are referred to as young and are brought food by their parents.

What do they eat?

Steller's jays are omnivores, so while a majority of their diet consists of seeds, and various nuts such as peanuts, berries, vegetables, and fruits, they also consume other living creatures as food. They mainly prey on smaller baby birds, bird eggs, nestlings, and small rodents such as mice and reptiles.

They also consume any seeds or scraps given by humans in bird feeders as food. Conifer seeds and acorns are a big part of their diet, as well as sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

They also eat hummingbirds and suet during winter. Other than a couple of small changes, their food preferences do not change during the winter and summer months.

Are they dangerous?

Steller's jays are a danger to the birds they are fighting with, as well as the smaller creatures that they prey on. Aside from behaviors such as 'aggressive sidling' and 'mobbing' that they engage in, adult Steller's jays are also very territorial and are big nest robbers.

They may attack other smaller birds while they are nesting and steal their nuts, eggs, and nestlings. Since they also have wide wings, they can be dangerous for many other creatures during the summer and winter months.

Would they make a good pet?

One can attract Steller's jays by putting food, such as nuts, in a bird feeder and waiting for them to approach. You can do this in any location where they may be available such as near a mountain range and in cities in Alaska or even California.

However, since they are wild birds, it is not recommended that they be kept as pets, even though one may be able to bond with them.

Did you know...

Steller's jays are the provincial bird of British Columbia.

Do male and female Steller's Jays look the same?

They look very similar; however, there are some differences notwithstanding their sex. While some Steller's jays have blue crests, others have black ones.

What's the difference between a blue jay and a Steller's jay?

The Steller's jay has longer legs, and a more overt and larger crest than the blue jay.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the Australian pelican and the snares penguin.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our steller's Jay coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti Chaudhary picture

Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

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