Flocks of Amami jays can be found wandering through their preferred habitat, mature evergreen forest, searching for their main food source, acorns of the Castanopsis cuspidata tree. These flocks are generally small, but groups of up to 100 have been reported. It is rarely seen feeding in the trees, preferring instead to forage among leaf litter on the forest floor, and will often store the food it finds for the winter. As well as acorns, the Amami jay consumes sweet potato, insects and reptiles, such as grass lizards and the poisonous Okinawa pit-viper (3). The Amami jay breeds from late January until May, when it will lay three to four eggs in nests on low tree branches, in tree holes, or occasionally on the ground or on buildings. The adults protect small territories around the nesting site, and chicks fledge in mid to late March (3).
This stunning, richly coloured bird is found only on a few islands in Japan. Its plumage is a deep purplish-blue, with a velvety black forehead and a rich chestnut back and underparts. The flight and tail feather are tipped with white, and there is also white flecking on the throat. The bill has a grey-blue base and an ivory coloured tip (2). The Latin genus name of this bird, Garrulus, means talkative and chattering.
endemic to the islands of Amami-ooshima, Kakeroma-jima, Uke-jima, Edateku-jima, part of the Nansei Shoto Islands, Japan
(BirdLife International 2001, K. Ishida in litt
. 2012). Its population was estimated at c.5,800 birds in the 1970s, but it may have declined through to the 1990s. It is precautionarily treated as undergoing a continuing decline overall, although it may have begun to increase since 2000, owing to alien predator control and natural forest regeneration (Yukihiro Kominami in litt
. 2007), and may now be stable (K. Ishida in litt
. 2012). Some observations indicate a population increase in the northern Kasari peninsula of Amami-ooshima (M. Takashi per
K. Ishida in litt
Ryukyu Islands (Amami-O-Shima and Tokuno-Shima).
Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
The Amami jay is found only on the Nansei Shoto islands in southern Japan, where it occurs on Amami-ooshima and Kakeroma-jima. It previously could be found on Tokuno-shima Island, but is now believed to be extinct there (2).