Journal archives for December 2022

December 30, 2022

Genus Cyanocitta (Blue and Steller's Jays) Identification Guide

There are 2 species in the genus Cyanocitta, the Blue Jay (C. cristata) and the Steller's Jay (C. stelleri). Both species occur only in North America, with the Blue Jay being found East of the rocky mountains, and the Steller's Jay being found West of them. This guide will go over how to identify adults of both species, as well as each species' habitat, vocalizations, and range.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is about 9-12 inches (about 23-30 centimeters) long, with a wingspan of about 13-17 inches (about 33-43 centimeters). This species has pale underparts and blue upperparts. Blue Jays also have a black "necklace", white face, black barring on the wings and tail, a blue crest (not always raised), and a bold white wing bar. The beak and legs are dark. This species can be found in forests, as well as urban and suburban areas. Common at feeders. Range map: Sightings:, Vocalizations: Blue Jays also sometimes mimic hawks.

The Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is 12-13 inches (about 30-33 centimeters) long, with a wingspan of 17 inches (about 43 inches). This species is variable, but is usually darkly colored on the nape, breast, and head. The wings, tail, back, belly, and flanks are blue. "Interior" form birds have a white "eyebrow" and white streaks on the crest. The "Coastal" form, found along the Pacific coast, has no white "eyebrow" and blue streaks on the crest. Some birds in southern Mexico and Central America are more blue, with shorter, blue crests. Found in forests at elevations of 3,000-10,000 feet (lower in Pacific coast). Range: Sightings:, Vocalizations:

Posted on December 30, 2022 02:41 AM by salmonadder salmonadder | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Tricky Identifications: Eastern vs. Western Bluebird

Welcome back to Tricky Identifications, a journal series that highlights a few similar species and the differences between them. The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) and Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) are two similar North American species in the genus Sialia (bluebirds).

The Western and Eastern Bluebirds are often identifiable by range. However, where their range overlaps the two can be difficult to distinguish from each other. Both species have blue upperparts, pale flanks, pale bellies, and rufous breasts. The females of both species are grayer than the males. However, on Eastern bluebirds, the rufous extends onto the throat and onto the neck. Western bluebirds often have rufous scapulars (uppermost part of the wing), a rufous nape, and some rufous on the back.

Eastern Bluebird:

Eastern Bluebird Range:

Western Bluebird:

Western Bluebird Range:

Posted on December 30, 2022 10:52 PM by salmonadder salmonadder | 0 comments | Leave a comment