Cyanolyca cucullataazure-hooded jay

Geographic Range

Cyanolyca cucullata inhabits southeastern Mexico, mainly on the Caribbean slope (Blake 1953). South through east-central Oaxaca and interior Chiapas to Guatemala; Western Panama and Costa Rica. Cyanolyca cucullata is also found in ranges of the tropical forests, in foothills, and in lowlands, but only when these have continuous cloud forest (Goodwin 1986).


Found in humid, tropical forests, including mountains.

Physical Description

Cyanolyca cucullata is similar in size to the Blue Jay, but has a larger body structure to support the amount of flying it must do. The feathers at the crown and nape are light, bright blue. The rest of the head, neck, upper mantle, and upper breast are black, and further down the body the feathers turn into a dark, purplish blue. There is a distinct white band that separates the bright blue head and the dark tones of the rest of the body. This band is a diagnostic feature of Cyanolyca cucullata. Young Cyanolyca cucullata have the same markings as adults, but the coloring is a lot duller, and the feathers are not nearly as shiny. The bright blue coloring makes the bird easy to spot and can make it more susceptible to predators (Goodwin 1986).

  • Average mass
    1000 g
    35.24 oz


Mates usually preen each other (one bends down in front of the other and pulls down at the throat feathers). There tends to be a constant movement of the crown feathers that reveals the condition of the mate. Nests are extremely hard to find. Sometimes these jays take over the nests of other birds that have abandoned them. Nesting tends to occur in trees that are at high elevations. Three to four eggs are laid in the nest over a period of time. Once the young hatch, they remain in the nest for around twenty days. The parents will bring the young food and watch over them until it is safe for the offspring to leave. (Winnett-Murray et al. 1988).


Cyanolyca cucullata are secretive dwellers of the humid forests. They often give off warning calls when they are in distress or feel threatened (Winnett-Murray et al. 1988). As members of the family Corvidae, these are probably extremely intelligent birds. Many corvids use ants to maintain their feather hygiene, use their toes to hold food, and use their bills to open seeds and eat. Many corvids also store seeds and nuts to be retrieved later. (Sick 1993). Cyanolyca cucullata tend to move in small groups of five to ten individuals and are extremely hard to find (Goodwin 1986) .

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Cyanolyca cucullata is omnivorous, eating seeds, berries, small dead animals, and occasionally steals bait from snares set for small mammals. Cyanolyca cucullata mostly forages in the canopy high above the forest floor(Goodwin 1986).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Seed caching behavior probably results in the spreading of seeds, increasing the distribution and diversity of plant species. (Sick 1993).

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No specific negative effects are known, but some tropical jays are pests that destroy and eat crops such as pineapples, orchards, cane, vegetables, and potato plantings (Sick 1993).

Conservation Status

Cyanolyca cucullata may be a rare bird like other Cyanolyca species, but it has not been well-studied. The first record of nesting was not published until 1984. Deforestation and other common threats could have an affect on the population of this bird (Winnett-Murray et al. 1988).


Zachary Kieltyka (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Blake, E. 1953. Birds of Mexico. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Goodwin, D. 1986. Crows of the World. Great Britian: The British Museum.

Sick, H. 1993. Birds in Brazil. New Jersey: Princeton Univeristy Press.

Winnett-Murray, K., K. Murray, W. Busby. 1988. Two nests of the Azure-hooded Jay with notes on nest attendance. The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 100(1): 134-135.