Steller's Jay - Cyanocitta stelleri
FWP Conservation Tier
Dark blue- or black-crested jay, about 30-34 cm long, 100-140 g. Irides dark brown. Bill, legs, and feet black in both sexes. Brownish black to jet black head, crest and upper breast, with slight gloss; light blue streaks on forehead; and grayish white throat-patch. Back dark grayish brown to grayish black, not usually contrasting noticeable with black of head. Lower breast dark greenish blue; lighter under tail. Wings deep, rich blue; tail dark blue or purplish blue. Plumage of sexes similar (Greene et al. 1998).
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)
Coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forest, open woodland, orchards, and gardens including humid coniferous forest in northwest North America. Habituates readily to humans and is well known at feeders, picnic areas, and campgrounds. Normally nonmigratory, although populations that breed at high elevations typically move to lower elevations during the winter (Greene et al. 1998).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at email@example.com
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. Special Publication No. 12. Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists. 278 p.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Open Water / Wetland and Riparian Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Omnivorous. Consumes wide variety of animal and plant food including arthropods, nuts, seeds, berries, fruits, small vertebrates, and eggs and young of smaller birds. At feeders, picnic areas and campgrounds, consumes wide variety of foods such as suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, meat, cheese, bread, and cookies (Greene et al. 1998).
Nests typically placed on horizontal branches close to trunk, often close to top of tree. When nesting close to human habitation, frequently nests close to a window, building, or path, above ground in bushes or trees. Eggs are subelliptical to short subelliptical. Bluish green in color and irregularly marked. Clutch size ranges 2 to 6, usually 4 or 5 (Greene et al. 1998). Nests with eggs have been reported on June 28, with young out of the nest on August 17. Egg dates are probably similar to those in Wyoming, as early as May 15.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View WorldCat Record View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder’s Handbook, A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Godfrey, W. Earl. 1966. The birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada. Ottawa. 428 pp.
- Greene, Erick, William Davison, and Vincent R. Muehter. 1998. Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri). Species Account Number 343. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
- Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-32. Ogden, UT: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 72 pp.
- Johnsgard, P. A. 1986. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the Northern Rocky Mountain region. Colorado Associated University Press, Boulder. xi + 504 pp.
- Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- Madge, S. and H. Burn. 1994. Crows and Jays: A guide to crows, jays, and magpies of the world. Houghton Mifflin Company, N.Y. 191 pp.
- Salt, W.R. and J.R. Salt. 1976. The birds of Alberta. Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, Alberta. xv + 498 pp.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"