The Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a distinct scavenging bird that's found in areas all over North and Central America -- from Canada all the way down to Nicaragua. These elegant yet fierce crested jays are hard to miss, with their intensely blue wings and blackish-gray heads.
In times of reproductive activities, Steller's jays generally take up residence in thick coniferous forests. They're also a common sight in dry woodlands and in neighborhoods and agricultural sites that are close to forests. They occasionally live in hardwood or mixed forests. Steller's jays do not migrate.
Steller's jays practice monogamy, and male and females work on building their nests as a partnership. They select the locations of their nests as a team. Both birds also are responsible for collecting the "ingredients" that go into finishing the nest. Male and female Steller's jays are both immensely protective of their constructions. Similar to blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), Steller's jays also employ lots of mud in nest construction activities to keep the foundation of the nest secure. Other components of this species' nests are twigs, animal fur, plant fibers, moss, weeds, small roots, foliage, stems and pine needles. Upon completion, Steller's jays' nests are usually between 6 to 7 inches in height, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Their diameters are usually between 10 and 17 inches.
Nesting generally occurs within conifer trees, notes BirdWeb. These nests usually are situated on conifer tree branches that are either right by the trunk or right by the tree's highest point -- a vast range. In scouting out suitable nesting trees, these social birds are usually drawn to those that are close to the outskirts of forests or in comparatively open and airy clearings. Steller's jays also often pick trees with thick leaves -- a way of keeping their precious nests as secretive as possible. These birds occasionally establish nests in "covert" human constructions -- under the sides of home roofs, for example.
Predators of Other Nests
Although Steller's jays are indeed highly protective of their own nests, they often prey on the nestlings of other birds. Apart from juvenile birds, these fearless jays frequently snatch eggs away from nests.
- BirdWeb: Steller's Jay
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Steller's Jay
- National Geographic: Steller's Jay
- National Park Service: Steller's Jay
- NatureMapping: Steller's Jay
- San Diego County Bird Atlas: Crows and Jays
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Cyanocitta stelleri
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Cyanocitta stelleri