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Eurasian jay


With a body length of 32 to 35 cm, the eurasian jay belongs to the medium-sized corvids, its wingspan is about 53 cm and its weight is about 170 grams. The strong beak is greyish-black to black. The feet are greyish-brown to brown flesh-coloured with yellowish or whitish soles. The iris is bluish-grey with a reddish inner and outer ring and an equally fine speckling.

The sexes do not differ in plumage colouration. The head is more or less conspicuously marked depending on the subspecies. The eurasian jay has white parts on the forehead and crown, the narrow, elongated feathers of which are streaked with black and can be raised to form a bonnet when excited. The region around the eye is also white with black streaking, often except for the front ear coverts. There is also a distinct black beard stripe, which is about the size of the beak. Chin and throat are white. The back of the ears, sides of the neck and the nape are reddish beige to dull chestnut. This colouration continues on the back, shoulders and underparts, turning more greyish brown on the back and slightly lighter on the underparts. The middle of the belly and the under-tail coverts are white, as are the back and the rump. The latter feature is often very noticeable, especially in flight, and contrasts with the blackish-brown colouring of the rectrix. The base of the feathers is grey with a grey-blue cross banding, which is hidden by the upper tail coverts. The tail ends with a relatively straight edge.

The roundish, broad wings are strikingly and characteristically coloured. The beige-pink colouring of the upper side continues on the lesser and middle coverts. The primary coverts and greater coverts are black on the inner vane and bear a black cross banding on the outer vane on a sky-blue background. This colourful plumage, which forms a blue field below the shoulder when the bird is sitting, is a particularly characteristic feature of the species. The primaries are dark brown with a pale fringe, which increasingly bears a blue-black cross banding towards the inner primaries. The secondaries are blackish brown with a white outer plume towards the base of the feathers. These form a white field when the wing is folded and are also clearly visible in flight. Sometimes there is a blue-black band in the white areas, mostly not visible. Towards the brown-black tertials, several secondaries show a chestnut-brown colouration with a broad, black terminal fringe.


In Central Europe, the eurasian jay inhabits deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests during the breeding season. It prefers sparse stands with a rich lower tree layer or a high shrub layer, or richly structured forests in which small areas alternate with different age classes, clearings, densities or slash. In monotonous forest forms such as spruce or pine forests, but also, for example, beech forests, it occurs in low density, only in marginal areas or in the area of clearings and slashes.

In correspondingly forest-like habitats, it also breeds close to settlements, for example in parks, extensive gardens or cemeteries. In the open countryside, the jay is rarely found during the breeding season. But after the breeding season during ripeness, it specifically seeks out solitary oaks or hazel bushes in the open landscape.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eichelhäher). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 17 December 2021