The Beautiful Jays (Cyanolyca pulchra) are relatively small, dark blue jays with limited, extremely narrow range in South America, specifically they are found on the west side of the Andes in Colombia and northwestern Ecuador.
Within their range, the numbers of these rare birds appear to be declining due to ongoing logging and habitat clearance of their humid montane forest habitats. They are, therefore, currently considered Near Threatened.
Distribution / Habitat
The Beautiful Jays occupies a narrow band on the western (Pacific) slope of the Andes in western and central Colombia (extreme south of Chocó, Risaralda and Valle) south to the southern parts of the Pichincha province in northwestern Ecuador).
In Colombia, these jays are usually found at elevations of about 3,000 – 7,550 feet (~ 900 – 2,300 meters; and in Ecuador from about 4,265 – 6,560 feet (~1,300 – 2,000 meters).
They inhabit wet foothill and premontane forests (“cloud forests”) as well as montane forests. They are also found along water courses and in marsh areas.
They are usuallys een alone or in pairs.
These birds are rare and local, and their numbers have been declining since the 1970s.
The medium-sized jar measures 10 – 11 inches (25.5 – 28 cm) in length. It has a wing length of about 5.3 inches (135 mm) and tail length of about 4.7 inches (120 mm). The bill is about 1.3 inches (33 mm) long.
Plumage Details / Adults
The Beautiful Jay’s plumage is dark blue. They lack the crest of other jays, but they have short, dense, tufted feathers to the forecrown. The face and the sides of the head are black. The crown and nape (back of the neck) is light sky-blue, with pale and white upper margins to the black face mask.
The wing coverts (feathers), and margins the wing and tail feathers are light blue. The throat is light blue, shading darker and washed with brown on the upper chest. The abdomen is light blue.
Females resemble the males, but have a more brownish tone to the plumage above (back, etc.).
Other Physical Details
The eyes (irises) are brown; and the bill and feet are black.
Immature birds have a duller, browner plumage.
The Beautiful resembles the other Andean Jay species of the Cyanolyca family, such as tge Black-collared Jay (Cyanolyca armillata) from the Andean forests of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela; the Turquoise Jay (Cyanolyca turcosa) from Ecuador, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; and the White-collared Jay (Cyanolyca viridicyanus) from Peru and Bolivia. However, the plumage of the Beautiful Jay is overall a much darker blue and it has a more contrasting whitish crown. This jay also lacks the black band across the chest of the other jay species.
The natural range of the Beautiful Jay only overlaps geographically with the Turquoise Jay, which occurs at higher elevations and is also larger in size.
Diet / Feeding
Beautiful Jays mostly feed on arthropods, such as insects, spiders, centipedes, mites, ticks, etc. They typically forage between the lower and mid-level branches. They are usually observed moving through vegetation with hops, peering for food, and then flying short distances to a nearby perch to feed.
Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds
The most characteristic calls fo the Beautiful Jays has been described as a loud inflected chewp or tjik, often repeated.
They also emit smacking, clicking, grating or whistling notes or calls.
Alternate (Global) Names
Chinese: ???? … Czech: Sojka nádherná … Danish: Pragtazurskade … Dutch: Ornaatgaai … Finnish: Purppuranaakka … French: Geai orné / superbe … German: Schmuckhäher … Italian: Ghiandaia capobianco / magnifica … Japanese: Shirogashiraaokakesu … Norwegian: Praktskrike … Polish: Modrowronka wspaniala … Russian: ???????? ???????????? ????? … Slovak: Kapuciarka nádherná … Spanish: Chara Hermosa / Preciosa, Urraca del Chocó, Urraquita hermosa … Swedish: Praktskrika
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