Fr: Geai à plumet
Ang: Curl-crested Jay 
All: Krauskopf-Blaurabe
Esp: Urraca campestre - Urraca de Cresta Rizada - Chara Crestada
Ita: Ghiandaia crestariccia
Nd: Kroeskopgaai
Sd: Krulltofsskrika
Port: Gralha-do-campo

Photographers :

John Anderson
John Anderson Photo Galleries

Jean Michel Fenerole
Photos d’Oiseaux du monde

Ken Havard
My Bird Gallery & Flickr gallery 1 & Flickr gallery 2

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 14 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-David Christie - Lynx Edicions – ISBN: 9788496553507

BIRDS OF SOUTH AMERICA – Passerines - by Robert S. Ridgely and Guy Tudor – HELM Field Guides – ISBN: 9781408113424

CORBEAUX ET GEAIS: Guide des Corbeaux, Geais et Pies du Monde – Steve Madge, Hilary Burn – Editeur : Vigot (18/04/1996) – ISBN 10: 2711412687 – ISBN 13 : 978-2711412686  

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Arthur Grosset's Birds (Arthur Grosset)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

HBW Alive


Home page

Page family Corvidae

Page Passeriforme Order

Summary cards


Curl-crested Jay
Cyanocorax cristatellus

Passeriformes Order – Corvidae Family

The Curl-crested Jay is a New World jay from Brazil, South America. This large jay shows distinctive recurved black crest. This species is usually seen in groups and is a social breeder with helpers during the nesting period.
The genus Cyanocorax includes 16 colourful jay species. In South America, most of them are living in open terrain, probably due to the absence of Corvus crows that are birds of open country, but they do not occur on this continent. The Curl-crested Jay is a good example of this fact.    

The Curl-crested Jay sometimes mimics a variety of sounds like numerous Corvidae. Several Corvids imitating the calls of birds of prey belong to the genus Cyanocorax among the Neotropical jays.
Another peculiar feature of these jays is hiding food on the ground or in branches in trees. As the food resources are constantly abundant in this area, this behaviour is probably a relic from their ancestors.
But we know that Corvids have highly developed mental ability.

Length: 35 cm
Weight: 178 g

The adult has black face, chin, throat, head sides and upper breast, but nape and neck sides are mostly brownish-black. We can see a black, elongated, recurved, always erect crest on the forecrown.
On the upperparts, back and rump are cyan-blue to bluish-violet, but the upper mantle is mostly sepia. In worn plumage, the brownish tones are more conspicuous. The upperwing is bright cyan-blue but the primaries show blue outer margins and blackish inner margins. The rather short tail has violet-blue basal half while the distal half is white.
On the underparts, lower breast, belly and undertail-coverts are white. On the underwing, coverts are white and contrast with the dark flight feathers.
The thick bill is black. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are black.

Both adults are similar.
The juvenile is duller with brownish-tipped wing-coverts and terminal third of tail washed mauve. The crest is shorter and less curved.

The Curl-crested Jay is found in SC Brazil, extreme CE and NE Paraguay and extreme E Bolivia.

The Curl-crested Jay occurs in dry forest of Cerrado savanna, forest edge and grassland with scattered trees and shrubs. It can be seen in modified habitats including edges of Eucalyptus plantations and even gardens close to habitations. This species has benefited from logging and deforestation. It occurs between 150 and 1100 metres of elevation.

The Curl-crested Jay gives a conglomeration of croaks, chattering and piping sounds. In territorial defence or in flocks, it gives a melodic “kyaar” note often repeated. A shorter “kyap” is continuously uttered by the birds in flocks, and especially as alarm call when mobbing a bird of prey. The contact-call within a flock is a harsh, abrupt, fairly variable “kiyii”.             
During the courtship, other sounds such as whistles, clicks and metallic noises can be heard. Mimicry is also reported.  

When they are threatened by a predator, they form small groups of 2-5 individuals and harass the intruder. Groups of several birds, 9-11, share a common territory. Some sentinels perch high above the ground and call loudly when a predator is approaching. The group may fly away, but sometimes, they congregate around the predator and harass it.
The usual predators are the Yellow-headed Caracara, the Northern Crested Caracara, the Roadside Hawk, the Savanna Hawk and marmosets.

During the breeding season, courtship feeding by male to female is reported. The male regurgitates food for the female. Displays are accompanied by various sounds including whistles, clicks and metallic noises.
The Neotropical jays perform “up-fluffing” of the plumage, with extended neck while erecting slowly neck and head feathers. The response to this behaviour is the peck-preening and consists of gentle pecking at neck and face. They are social breeders and they have several helpers.

The Curl-crested Jay is sedentary in its range, and appears nomadic outside the breeding season.
It flies laboriously from tree to tree with frequent wingbeats.

The breeding season occurs between September and March in Brazil, starting with the wet season.
The nest is cup-shaped and made with twigs. The cup is lined with softer vegetation and rootlets. It is placed in tree, usually in Caryocar brasiliense that also provides food such as fruit and nectar to the birds.

The female lays 5-6 pale blue-green eggs with dark markings. The incubation lasts 18-20 days, performed by the breeding female. The helpers feed her, and later, they will feed the chicks and clean the nest. The young birds fledge about 24 days after hatching.
Only a small area around the nest is defended. There is probably more than one clutch per season. Predation at nest is heavy with more than 60% of nests loss.

The Curl-crested Jay is relatively common in its wide range. The species has benefited from logging and deforestation, and has adapted to disturbed habitats where there are some scattered trees and shrubs.
The population is not quantified but suspected to be stable.
In spite of predation, the Curl-crested Jay is currently evaluated as least Concern.

The Curl-crested Jay is omnivorous like numerous Corvidae. The most common food items include insects such as termites, orthopterans, larvae and pupae from social wasp’s nests (Apoica pallens). It also feeds on various fruits species and acts as seed dispersal agent. It is known for taking the nectar of Caryocar brasiliense or Pequi.
From some observations, the Curl-crested Jay may sometimes prey on eggs of Ruddy Ground-dove, and nestlings of Sayaca Tanager in Brazil. Some lizards can be taken too.

The Curl-crested Jay forages by gleaning preys and fruits from the shrubby vegetation. It also performs sallies, hangs from branches and catches insects in flight.
It forages mainly in the morning and the late afternoon. There are usually some birds acting as sentinels, perched high above the ground. They forage in flocks, hiding in the dense canopy of the forest during the hottest hours of the day.