IUCN threat status:

Near Threatened (NT)

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Biology

A highly social bird, the beautiful tufted jay lives in flocks of 4 to 16 individuals. The larger flocks often break up into smaller groups as the breeding season commences at the end of March, to form flocks of an adult breeding pair and several immature birds. These small breeding groups cooperate in the task of raising a brood, starting with each bird in the flock gathering sticks, twigs and plant fibres for the breeding female. From these materials, the female will build a bulky nest, adorning the rim with fresh, green leaves. The nest is generally situated 5 to 15 meters above the ground, hidden in the dense canopy of a shaded tree (2). Between April and May, a clutch of three to five dull, greenish-white eggs is laid, which are patterned with brown speckles and blotches and little pale purplish markings. The eggs are incubated for 18 to 19 days, during which time the male will spend a good part of his day guarding the nest. When the eggs have hatched, the whole flock becomes active once more, busily flying to and from the nest with food for the new chicks (2). The tufted jay feeds on a variety of invertebrates, fruit, berries and acorns, which it forages for primarily in the tree canopy, rarely descending to the ground. It has been seen probing and tearing apart clumps of vegetation to extract berries and acorns, and will even hang upside-down briefly or hover while feeding. For several hours in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its hottest, the tufted jay will take a break from its activities and will rest or preen in the cool of a shady spot (2).

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Source: ARKive

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