Garrulus glandarius (Linnaeus, 1758) J. JAY.. 15390
Family: Passeriformes > Corvidae

Jay, Chris Bradley

A very colourful member of the crow family, Jays are often mistaken for something more exotic from warmer climes.

The pinkish plumage and striking blue and black barring on the wing make the Jay stand out from its neighbours. It has a bounding flight where its white rump is an easily noticed feature. Landing in a tree, the bird swoops up to a branch and then sits tight making it surprisingly hard to see when perched. Its raspy call can be the best indicator of its presence.

The Bird Atlas 2007-11 suggests that Jay distribution is constrained by woodland cover and climate. Recent surveys have shown the range of this species to be expanding to the north and west, particularly in Scotland and Ireland, although the fluctuating population numbers show no real trend up or down.

Exploring the trends for Jay

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jay population is changing.

trends explorer


Jay identification is usually straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Jay, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Alarm call



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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The UK Jay population remained stable in the species' preferred woodland habitat until the late 1980s, after which the population began to decline. This decrease followed an earlier decline on farmland CBC plots (Gregory & Marchant 1996). With the losses since the 1980s now regained, long-term trends are stable overall. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that increases occurred almost everywhere during this period, with the exception of parts of central southern England. Mean brood size appears to have increased by half a chick since 1968, and nest success has also improved, so the number of fledglings per breeding attempt has increased, though all demographic measures are based on small samples. There has been an increase across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).

Exploring the trends for Jay

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jay population is changing.

trends explorer


Jay distribution within Britain & Ireland is thought to be constrained by woodland cover and climatic conditions.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Breeding Season Habitats

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


Jay's winter distribution has expanded since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, with an 86% range expansion in Ireland and a 16% expansion in Britain, where there have been major gains in Scotland.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Jay is recorded throughout the year but detections peak in autumn when birds disperse or are actively seen caching food for the winter.

Weekly occurence of Jay from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Jay ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Jay, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Jay

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jay population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Jay

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Jay population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Sgreuchag-choille
Welsh: Sgrech y Coed
Catalan: gaig eurasiàtic
Czech: sojka obecná
Danish: Skovskade
Dutch: Gaai
Estonian: pasknäär
Finnish: närhi
French: Geai des chênes
German: Eichelhäher
Hungarian: szajkó
Icelandic: Skrækskaði
Irish: Scréachóg
Italian: Ghiandaia
Latvian: silis, krekis
Lithuanian: eurazinis kekštas
Norwegian: Nøtteskrike
Polish: sójka (zwyczajna)
Portuguese: gaio
Slovak: sojka obycajná
Slovenian: šoja
Spanish: Arrendajo euroasiático
Swedish: nötskrika
Folkname: Acorn Jay


Interpretation and scientific publications about Jay from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is little good evidence available regarding the drivers of the breeding population change in this species in the UK.

Further information on causes of change

No further information is available.

Information about conservation actions

The UK population of the Jay has been stable over the long-term and has increased over the last 25 years, hence it is not a species of concern and no conservation actions are currently required.

The drivers of change are not known and no specific conservation actions have been proposed for this species, although actions to maintain and restore woodland habitats to benefit declining woodland specialists may also benefit generalists including the Jay.


Peer-reviewed papers

Incorporating fine-scale environmental heterogeneity into broad-extent models

2019 | Graham, L.J., Spake, R., Gillings, S., Watts, K. & Eigenbrod, F.Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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