Black-Throated Magpie-Jay

Calocitta colliei
Range Map

This spectacular bird is native to Mexico from the Pacific Slopes east of Hermosillo, to Guadalajara and Colima. Near the border with Mexico in San Diego County, a free-ranging colony of these birds live in the Tijuana River Valley. We believe these birds are descendants of escaped captives from Tijuana that have established breeding territory along the border. Their native range is more than 500 miles southeast of San Diego in the northwestern Mexican mainland.

My most intimate meetings with these birds have come while visiting the Bird and Butterfly Gardens on Hollister Road, but I once saw one during a BioBlitz event, flying high over Mission Trails Regional Park, 20 miles to the north.

Unlike their close relatives the White-Throated Magpie-Jays (Calocitta formosa) living further south in Mexico, not much research has been conducted on this species.

Like other jays and magpies, there seems to be cooperative communal participation in the care and raising of young birds. Once they pass into early adulthood, these birds spend their first years assisting their parents in rearing the next generation.

Taxonomists view the Black-Throated Magpie-Jay as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies recognised).

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