Jay, Plush-crested

Cyanocorax chrysops

Adult wing length: 5.75 – 6.5 (146 – 165 mm); tail length: 6.1 – 7.1 in (155 – 179 mm); adult weight: 4.95 oz (140.3 g); adult coloration: dark violet blue back, a black bib, pale yellow underparts, tail band, and nape, spots of blue above and below the eye, and of course, a short crest of stiff, “plush-like” crown feathers. Juveniles lack the pale spots above and below the eye, and the malar stripe is vestigial. Immature adults are similar to adults, but the pale eye spots are small and drab. Appearance: robust build, strong legs and nostrils covered by bristle-like feathers.








Southwestern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina, including southern regions of the Amazon Basin river systems, bordering the Pantanal


Subtropical and tropical dry forests, lowland moist forests and moist montane forests

Life Expectancy

In captivity – up to 20 years

Sexual Maturity

About 3 years


In the wild, they eat insects, fruits, nestling birds, and pine-nuts; in the Zoo, they are fed a scientifically developed, commercially available bird diet supplemented with fruits, vegetables, insects and meat.


IUCN – Least Concern


Plush-crested jays are highly active and social foragers. They forage “actively at all levels, hopping and peering about on branches and in foliage.” They usually forage in flocks of up 10-12 individuals; where the distributions of the two species overlap, often accompanying purplish jays (Cyanocorax cyanomelas). They have a very loud and arresting call, which serves to draw attention to them. Like many corvids, the plush-crested jay can also mimic other birds and are very sociable.


Corvids (members of the Corvidae family) are considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent animals, having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests and tool making ability —skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain to body ratio is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than in humans.

Special Interests

The word “jay” has an archaic meaning in American slang meaning a person who chatters impertinently. The term jaywalking was coined in 1915 to label persons crossing a busy street carelessly and becoming a traffic hazard.



This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern on IUCN. The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as ‘fairly common’.

Jacksonville Zoo History

According to our animal records plush-crested jays were first here from 1988 to 1999, and the species then returned in 2008. Jacksonville has bred this jay.


Emerald Forest Aviary