Siberian Jay

There are just two species of Jay in Europe, the Eurasian Jay, we usually call the Jay and the smaller, brown and orange Siberian Jay. The latter is a widespread bird of the northern, boreal forests across from Europe to far-eastern Russia. It is related to the Gray Jay of North America and the highly localised Sichuan Jay of high altitude forests in central China.

Like all Jays, they are omnivorous feeding on a variety of berries, fruits, insects, other invertebrates, small rodents, and small birds’ eggs as well as carrion. They will come readily to scraps put out and in some areas are so habituated to humans that they will appear on forest paths awaiting feeding.

They also share with the Gray Jay the odd habit of producing sticky saliva from special glands to glue together berries and other food into balls to store for squeezing onto branches or lichen clumps. Later they will be recovered with the jay’s sticky tongue.

The sticky tongue is a valuable tool for extracting food items in crevices, and this is complemented with the almost tit-like acrobatics of this species.

Siberian Jays are 26-29cm long (ie thrush-sized; compared to Jays which are c35cm long) and predominantly shades of brown, with a darker brown cap and paler belly. The rump and tail sides are golden-rust, as patches on the wings. Thought he crown usually appears rounded, there is a bit of an erectile crest, which occasionally shows at the back of the crown.