Backyard Birds

Beautiful Jays

The Beautiful Jays (Cyanolyca pulchra) are relatively small, dark blue jays with a 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.

Jay InformationPhotos of Different Jay Species for Identification

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 usually 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 a 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) are light sky-blue, with pale and white upper margins to the black face mask.

The wing coverts (feathers), and margins of 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.

Juvenile Description

Immature birds have a duller, browner plumage.

Similar Species

The Beautiful resembles the other Andean Jay species of the Cyanolyca family, such as the 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 call 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

Photo, Video, and/or Article contributions are welcome! You can Upload articles and images here. Thank you!

Beauty Of Birds strives to maintain accurate and up-to-date information; however, mistakes do happen. If you would like to correct or update any of the information, please contact us. THANK YOU!!!


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button