A jay is a 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.

Garrulus glandarius 1 Luc Viatour.jpg
Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Scientific classification

Systematics and speciesEdit

Jays are not a monophyletic group. Anatomical and molecular evidence indicates they can be divided into an American 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. The crested jay (Platylophus galericulatus) is traditionally placed here, but its placement remains unresolved; it does not seem to be a corvid at all.[1]

Old World ("brown") jaysEdit

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

Grey jaysEdit

Image Genus Living Species
  Perisoreus Bonaparte, 1831 - Grey jays

American jaysEdit

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 cultureEdit


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. ^ a b 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 linksEdit