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Purplish-backed Jay

Cyanocorax beecheii

The Purplish-backed Jay, a member of the crow family Corvidae, is a striking bird adorned with purple feathers on its back, wings, and tail, contrasted by black plumage elsewhere. This bird exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males typically larger than females. It boasts a powerful bill, a long tail, and a small erectile crest on its forehead. The bird's plumage shines brightest on the lower mantle and rump, while its bill, irises, and legs are a vivid yellow.

Identification Tips

To identify the Purplish-backed Jay, look for its distinctive purplish-blue plumage on the back and the contrasting black head, neck, upper mantle, and underparts. The bird measures between 35 and 41 cm in length. The yellow irises and legs are also key features to distinguish it from other species.


The Purplish-backed Jay is endemic to the dry deciduous forests of northwestern Mexico, where it thrives and forages.


This bird is a native resident of northwestern Mexico, where it is commonly found in its preferred habitat.


The Purplish-backed Jay is a social creature, forming small groups that include an adult pair and their offspring from the previous year. These groups are territorial, defending home ranges of 25 to 43 hectares. They exhibit pair bonding behaviors such as vocal displays, mutual preening, and food sharing. The jays are omnivorous and have been known to leave the forest to feed in orchards and other human-altered landscapes. They are also known to mob predators to protect their territory.

Song & Calls

The Purplish-backed Jay engages in various vocal displays, which are part of its pair bonding and territorial behaviors.


The dominant pair within a group will typically be the only ones to nest in a given year. The nest is an untidy platform of twigs, and the female lays a clutch of about five eggs in early May. Incubation lasts around nineteen days, with the female being fed by the male and sometimes other group members. Both parents and other group members feed the chicks, which fledge in about 24 days.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned for comparison.

Diet and Feeding

The Purplish-backed Jay's diet consists of invertebrates and small vertebrates. They employ various strategies to catch insects, pluck grubs, and forage through plant litter. Their omnivorous nature also leads them to venture into human-modified areas for food.

Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the Purplish-backed Jay as a species of "Least Concern." Although its population is thought to be declining due to habitat degradation, the decline is gradual, and the species has a wide range.

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Purplish-backed Jays on Birda

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Ignacio Loera
29 Jun 2023 - 6:35pm

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