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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Crows/Corvidae

Eurasian Jay/Garrulus glandarius - Adult

L 32-35 cm, WS 54-58 cm. Breeds in various types of woodland, both coniferous and deciduous, and in larger wooded parks. Prefers areas with acorns (secondarily beech nuts, hornbeam seeds), which are cached in autumn as winter food; shipments high up with crop full of acorns can extend over several kilometres. Mostly resident, but N populations migrate S and SW in some autumns. Vigilant and shy, difficult to approach. Omnivore; summer diet includes a good many eggs and young of small birds. Nests usually in tree.
IDENTIFICATION: Plumage striking, yet a bird which few city-dwellers are acquainted with. Mainly pinkish grey-brown with whitish throat and vent. Above, on wing-bend, a light blue panel, finely vermiculated black. Head has a broad black moustachial stripe at throat-side, also black-spotted whitish crown (in Europe; race glandarius). Crown-feathers can be raised, creating pointed head shape. In flight, conspicuous large white rump patch and broad white wing-band on ‘arm’. Flight fluttering and a little uneven, on straight course. Told at long range from similarly flapping Nutcracker by rather long tail and short bill. - Variation: British & Irish birds (rufitergum, hibernicus) are darker red-brown. In Caucasus (krynicki), Middle East (atricapillus) and central N Africa (cervicalis), crown is all black and bill thicker. In NE Russia (brandtii) head is reddish-brown.
VOICE: Most often heard is the characteristic, loud and intense, hoarse scream, ‘kschaach!’, which normally functions as warning but is sometimes used also as advertising-call; often repeated a couple of times in quick succession; when a flock of Jays catches sight of an owl, Goshawk or marten, a real uproar can break out in the wood! Sometimes gives a descending mew, ‘piyeh’, very like Buzzard’s, but confusion seldom arises since the Buzzard calls almost invariably from the skies whereas the Jay is always heard from dense woods. Mimicry of its arch-enemy the Goshawk’s cackle is often practised, too, ‘kya-kya-kya-...’. Song is heard at times during late winter, a rather odd mixture of clucking, knocking, mewing and raucous sounds; quiet, does not carry far.

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