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For other uses, see Jay (disambiguation).
Garrulus glandarius 1 Luc Viatour.jpg
Eurasian jay, the original 'jay' after which all others are named
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae

Jays are several species of medium-sized, usually colorful and noisy, passerine birds in the crow family, Corvidae. The names jay and magpie are somewhat interchangeable, and the evolutionary relationships are rather complex. For example, the Eurasian magpie seems more closely related to the Eurasian jay than to the Oriental blue and green magpies, whereas the blue jay is not closely related to either.

Systematics and species[edit]

See classification box for relevant genera links. Traditionally, the crested jay (Platylophus galericulatus) is placed here, but apparently this is not correct, as suggested by anatomical and molecular evidence[citation needed]. Its placement remains unresolved; it does not seem to be a corvid at all. According to Ericson et al. (2005), jays are not a monophyletic group. Rather, they can be divided into an American and an Old World lineage (the latter including the ground jays and the piapiac), while the gray jays of the genus Perisoreus form a group of their own. The black magpie, formerly believed to be related to jays, is classified as a treepie.

Old World ("brown") jays[edit]

Grey jays[edit]

American jays[edit]

In culture[edit]


The word jay has an archaic meaning in American slang meaning a person who chatters impertinently.[1][2] The word also means a foolish or gullible person.[3]

A derogatory American slang term for immigrants of Romania, Hungarian, Poland, Austria, Albania. The Poles and other immigrants settled in highly industrial areas and shaped the culture of certain towns and cities. Native residents referred to them as Jays, and in areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. Albania-Americans self-identify with the term without offense.

The term jaywalking was coined in 1915 to label persons crossing a busy street carelessly and becoming a traffic hazard.[4] The term began to imply recklessness or impertinent behavior as the convention became established. ("jay-walker". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)).

In January 2014, Canadian author Robert Joseph Greene embarked on a lobbying campaign among ornithologists in Europe and North America to get Merriam-Websters Dictionary to have a "Jabber of Jays" as an official term under bird groups.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jay". freedictionary.com. An overly talkative person; a chatterbox. 
  2. ^ "Definition of Jay by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster, Inc. 
  3. ^ "Jay". freedictionary.com. a foolish or gullible person 
  4. ^ "Definition of Jaywalker by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster, Inc. 
  5. ^ "Writer lobbies for new word to describe jays". Vancouver Courier. January 2, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ "British Ornithologists' Union: What say ye countrymen to a jabber of jays?". Community News. January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 


  • Ericson, Per G. P.; Jansén, Anna-Lee; Johansson, Ulf S. & Ekman, Jan (2005): Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology 36: 222-234. PDF fulltext

External links[edit]