Steller’s Jay

Cyanocitta stelleri
Range Map

The Steller’s Jay is native to western North America. They prefer conifer habitats of 3,000 to 10,000 feet elevation, though near the coast of northwest North America they may be found down to sea level.

One name used in past times is “Long-Crested Jay”. These birds are closely related to Blue Jays, which have expanded their range westward, to the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. There, where their ranges overlap, we have seen interbreeding.

Like most jays, these birds are opportunistic feeders and will exploit food-sources, either man-made or naturally occurring. Camp robbing, nest robbing, plant or animal based food sources are all fair game to them.

My meetings with this species have ranged from southeastern Alaska, Flagstaff (Arizona), to the eastern Sierra-Nevada Mountains, and in the Peninsular Ranges in southern California.

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The subspecies range map shown here lists nine members, but today, taxonomists recognise 16 or 17 subspecies in three groups (Coastal, Interior, and Central American):

Subspecies Range Map
  • Coastal Group
    • C. s. stelleri lives in southern Alaska and coastal British Columbia (Canada), south to northwestern Oregon.
    • C. s. carlottae lives in the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia (Canada).
    • C. s. frontalis lives in central Oregon south through the mountains of eastern California and west-central Nevada.
    • C. s. carbonacea lives in coastal central California.
  • Interior Group
    • C. s. annectens lives in the northern Rocky Mountains from eastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta south to northeastern Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and northwestern Wyoming.
    • C. s. macrolopha lives in the Rocky Mountains from Nevada east to South Dakota and south to Sonora and Chihuahua (Mexico).
    • C. s. diademata lives in northwestern Mexico from southern Sonora and Chihuahua south to Durango and Jalisco.
    • C. s. phillipsi lives in northeastern Mexico.
  • Central American Group
    • C. s. coronata lives in northeastern Mexico from southeastern San Luis Potosí south to Veracruz and Puebla.
    • C. s. purpurea lives in western Mexico.
    • C. s. azteca lives in central Mexico.
    • C. s. teotepecensis lives in Guerrero (Mexico).
    • C. s. restricta lives in Oaxaca.
    • C. s. ridgwayi lives from Chiapas south to n. Guatemala.
    • C. s. lazula lives in El Salvador.
    • C. s. sauvis lives in Nicaragua.

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