[Species] | Black-beaded jay
Black headed jays (Garrulus lanceolatus) are roughly the same size as their close relatives, Eurasian jays, the only differences being that they’re more slender overall. They range from eastern Afghanistan, across the Himalayas from India, to Nepal and Bhutan.
On average individuals reach a length of about 33 centimetres and weigh inbetween 85 and 105 grams. Adults have a black chin, throat, and head with elongated feathers on their crown, forming an often incospicous crest. The overall plumage is pinkish-grey, including neck sides and back. The tail is a blue, finely barred black, with a slightly wider subterminal black bar and white-tipped rectrices.
Habitats frequented by the black-headed jay include mixed oak-pine and oak-cedar forests, as well as other types of woodlands. These birds tend to prefer more open forests than the Eurasian Jay, which is often hidden among dense vegetation. They can live at eleveations as high as 4000 metres, but move further down during the winters.
As other corvids too, black-headed jays are highly omnivorous, but primarily feed on invertebrates and small vertebrates, especially during the breeding season. Apart from that they also consume berries in the autumn and winter, and around villages they may scavenge on discarded food scraps. They also seem to by highly fond of acorns which they occasionally store for later use.
They’re solitary breeders and eggs are laid from April to May. Both adults build a deep, loose foundation of twigs for a nest, which is placed five to seven metres above the ground. The female is the only one to incubate its three to four eggs, which usually takes about 16 days. During this period it is fed by the male. Chicks fledge about three weeks after hatching.
Black-headed jays are locally common birds, and appear to have entirely stable populations, which resulted in the IUCN assigning them the category of least concern.
Photo credits: Zahoor Ahmed