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6 Facts About the Green Jay

A beautifully colored Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) perches on a small limb.
Curious Green Jay
A close up portrait of a A beautifully colored Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Green Jay Portrait

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Did you know that this unmistakably tropical, colorful bird resides right here in the great state of Texas? I didn’t, until about two years ago. This incredible bird is the Cyanocorax yncas. Commonly known as the Green Jay. Before we get to the 6 Facts About the Green Jay, let me give you a little background on the images in this blog.

After learning about photography ranches, I came across a place outside of Edinburg, Texas called Laguna Seca Ranch. I contacted a guide at the ranch, Ruth Hoyt, and started researching more about the area. I knew I was going to have to get my ducks in a row if I was going to convince Tracy on a South Texas road trip. Luck was with me. I found a live bird feeder cam at the Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville, Texas (Click the link to watch). There, sitting on the feeder was this vibrant bird. All I had to do was show the feeder cam to Tracy and she was hooked. I believe her exact words were, “Holy crap, what is that?”. I told her it was a Green Jay, and it can only be found in South Texas. The next day I was making plans for our road trip. A few weeks later, we saw our first Green Jay. Like our own little ambassador, sitting in a tree at our B&B as if to welcome us on our birding adventure. It was amazing! I’m glad no one saw us because we both (Tracy more than me) did our happy dance.

We spent the next day with Ruth at the Laguna Seca Ranch. The morning was spent with birds of prey and the afternoon was all about photographing the Green Jay and other incredible South Texas songbirds.

Okay, that’s my story. Let’s get to the amazing facts about the Green Jay!

Fact #1: There are several different regions where Green Jays live. One population lives from the southern tip of Texas along the eastern coast of Mexico. But they also live in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Another population lives along the western coast of Mexico from Puerto Vallarta south. Believe it or not, these birds also live in parts of South America, from Venezuela to Peru and Bolivia.

Fact #2: Green Jays use sticks and other “tools” to pry up loose bark, exposing insect prey. They are among the few North American bird species known to use tools.

Fact #3: Green Jays, like the more familiar Blue Jays, are excellent mimics. In Texas, they may imitate the call of various hawks to frighten away other birds from the food they want to eat.

Fact #4: The Central American and South American populations of the Green Jay are separated by 900 miles. The two different groups are different in color and calls. The South American Green Jays are larger and have a crest in front of their eyes.

Fact #5: A Texas Green Jay flock usually consists of a breeding pair, the current year's nestlings, and 1-year-old, nonbreeding birds from the previous year's nest. The 1-year-olds defend the territory, which aids the parents, but they are rejected from the family flock soon after the current year's nestlings have fledged. In Colombia, the Green Jay retains offspring for several years, and those young help the parents raise more chicks.

Fact #6: The oldest recorded Green Jay was at least 11 years, and 7 months old, and lived in Texas.

Well, there you have it. 6 facts about the Green Jay. If you ever have the chance to do a little South Texas birding, lucky you! You will not be disappointed.

A Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) grabs an acorn from a feeder.
Green Jay with Acorn

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Until next time, keep the sun behind you and the birds in view


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