23–25 cm. Stunning, small jay. Slate-blue body, striking black head with white throat and supercilium extending down behind ear-coverts to give bridled effect.
Population estimate = 6 individuals/km2 x 750 km2 (20% EOO) = 4,500, i.e. best placed in band 2,500-9,999 (density from median of three estimates for New World jays in the BirdLife Population Densities Spreadsheet, and compatible with description as common to fairly common).
No quantitative data are available for the calculation of population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining rapidly in line with habitat degradation within its range.
Range and population
Cyanolyca mirabilis is locally fairly common to common in the Sierra Madre del Sur of Guerrero and Oaxaca, south-west Mexico. In Guerrero, it is common at Omiltemi, fairly common just north of Nueva Delhi and common between Nueva Delhi and Cerro Teotepec. In Oaxaca, it is known from only three localities in the Sierras de Miahautlán and de Yucuyacua, but there have been no records from San Andrés Chicahuaxtla since 19644.
It is largely restricted to undisturbed tracts of humid montane forest, favouring cloud (near Cerro Teotepec)5, oak and pine-oak forests, but has been found in disturbed habitats. It occurs at elevations of 1,525-3,500 m in Guerrero and 2,000-2,600 m in Oaxaca, but there is very little suitable habitat below 1,800 m. It tends to forage in pairs or small groups, but sometimes joins mixed-species flocks in non-breeding season. Breeding has been recorded in April–August.
Many of the remaining forests within its range are under clearance for timber and large-scale agricultural expansion. Corn, fruit (notably citrus fruit in the Sierra de Miahautlán1) and coffee cultivation is replacing lower montane forests, and logging is removing pine-oak forests3. The continuing spread of West Nile virus is not thought to pose a serious threat, and no related mortality has been detected in this species6.
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