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Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Scientific classificationEdit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Corvoidea
Family: Corvidae

A jay is a member of a number of species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy, passerine birds in the crow family, Corvidae. The evolutionary relationships between the jays and the magpies are rather complex. For example, the Eurasian magpie seems more closely related to the Eurasian jay than to the East Asian blue and green magpies, whereas the blue jay is not closely related to either. The Eurasian jay distributes oak acorns, contributing to the growth of oak woodlands over time.

Systematics and species[edit]

Jays are not a monophyletic group. Anatomical and molecular evidence indicates they can be divided into a New World and an Old World lineage (the latter including the ground jays and the piapiac), while the grey jays of the genus Perisoreus form a group of their own.[1] The black magpies, formerly believed to be related to jays, are classified as treepies.

Old World ("brown") jays[edit]

Image Genus Living species
Garrulus Brisson, 1760
Podoces Fischer von Waldheim, 1821 - Ground jays
Ptilostomus Swainson, 1837

Grey jays[edit]

Image Genus Living species
Perisoreus Bonaparte, 1831 - Grey jays

New World jays[edit]

Image Genus Living species
Aphelocoma Cabanis, 1851 - Scrub-jays
Gymnorhinus Wied-Neuwied, 1841
Cyanocitta Strickland, 1845
Calocitta G.R. Gray, 1841 - Magpie-jays
Cyanocorax F. Boie, 1826
Cyanolyca Cabanis, 1851

In culture[edit]


The word jay has an archaic meaning in American slang meaning a person who chatters impertinently.[2][3]

The term jaywalking was coined in 1915 to label persons crossing a busy street carelessly and becoming a traffic hazard.[4] The term began to imply recklessness or impertinent behavior as the convention became established.[5]

In January 2014, Canadian author Robert Joseph Greene embarked on a lobbying campaign among ornithologists in Europe and North America to get Merriam-Websters Dictionary to have a "Jabber of Jays" as an official term under bird groups.[6][7]


  1. ^ Ericson, Per G. P.; Jansén, Anna-Lee; Johansson, Ulf S.; Ekman, Jan (May 2005). "Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data". Journal of Avian Biology. 36 (3): 222–234. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2001.03409.x.http://www.nrm.se/download/18.4e32c81078a8d9249800021299/Corvidae%5B1%5D.pdf PDF fulltext
  2. ^ "Jay". freedictionary.com. An overly talkative person; a chatterbox.
  3. ^ "Definition of Jay by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster, Inc.
  4. ^ "Definition of Jaywalker by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster, Inc.
  5. ^ "jay-walker". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  6. ^ "Writer lobbies for new word to describe jays". Vancouver Courier. January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  7. ^ "British Ornithologists' Union: What say ye countrymen to a jabber of jays?". Community News. January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.

External links[edit]