jay, common name for a number of birds of the family Corvidae (crows and jays), found in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The best-known representatives in America are the blue jay, Cyanocitta cristata, and the Canada jay. The Canada jay is gray, about 12 in. (30 cm) long, with a white throat and forehead and black nape; it has no crest. Found in northern coniferous forests and swamps, it is known for its habit of stealing bright objects, and is called locally camp robber, whisky jack, and moose bird. The common jay is of wide distribution and is hunted for game in England and Europe. The female lays from five to seven eggs per clutch, and the male helps incubate them. The Florida, or scrub, jay has blue markings and no crest. The European jay is fawn-colored, with a black and white crest and wings of black, white, and blue. Jays are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Corvidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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