[order] Passeriformes | [family] Corvidae | [latin] Garrulus glandarius | [UK] Jay | [FR] Geai des chênes | [DE] Eichelhäher | [ES] Arrandejo Común | [IT] Ghiandaia eurasiatica | [NL] Vlaamse Gaai

Vlaamse Gaai determination

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Rather small corvid, most colorful of family in west palearctic, with short bill, domed head, broad wings, chesty body, broad wings, and rather long tail. west and central European races pink to grey-brown with black 'moustache', black, white-barred, and blue-splashed wings, bold white rump, and black tail. Other races differ especially in head pattern and overall color. Flight jerky and weak-looking. Screeching call distinctive. Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Breeds across wooded middle and lower middle latitudes of west Palearctic, mainly in continental temperate and Mediterranean climates, but marginally in oceanic, boreal, and wooded steppe zones. predominantly lowland, but in Carpathians to treeline at 1600 m. Strongly arboreal and at home in fairly dense cover of trees, scrub, and woody undergrowth, especially in woodlands of oak, beech, and hornbeam, but also inhabits other broad-leaved and, in parts of range, coniferous forests. In some regions has spread into smaller outlying woodlands, spinneys, and copses, and even to urban and rural parkland, and to large gardens, where sometimes uses walls and stone ledges.

Garrulus glandarius is a widespread resident across most of Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is very large (>6,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a few countries during 1990-2000, populations across the vast majority of Europe- including key ones in France, Russia and Turkey-were stable or increasing, and the species remained stable overall.

Invertebrates, especially beetles and Lepidoptera larve, fruits and seeds, especially acorns. Small vertebrates occasionally taken, most often in winter or when feeding young, also carrion and domestic scraps. During breeding season most food collected from leaves of trees, mainly caterpillars in oak, but otherwise forages principally on ground except when collecting acorns in autumn for storing.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 12,000,000-26,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Mid April to early June in Britain, end of April to early June in Finland, mid April to end of May in Switzerland, early April in North Africa. Nest site in fork or on branch of tree or bush, often thorny, usually close to ro against trunk in middle of lower crown, or high in crown of young tree or of conifer. The nest is a rough foundation of twigs, with inside layer of soft, thinner twigs, roots, stalks, etc., lined with rootlets, bast, grass, moss, leaves, hair, and rarely feathers. Clutch size varies from 5-7 eggs, Incubation lasts for 16-18 days and is done by female only.

Sedentary in west and south of range; mainly eruptive migrant in east and north, but small numbers move every year in extreme north. Eruptive (diurnal) migration of north and central European populations probably chiefly due to failure of acorn crop; notable years have included 1955, 1977, and 1983. Populations involved and extent of movement vary greatly. Heading usually ranges between west and SSW, with strong westerly component for eastern (Russian) birds. Most migrants are juveniles, and considerable proportion returns to area of origin in spring. Autumn movement mid- or late September to early or mid-November, spring movement (in smaller numbers than autumn) March-June, thus continuing markedly late, when breeding season well under way. Birds are reluctant to cross sea; thus, passage migrants rare on Helgoland (Germany) and Ottenby (Öland island, Sweden); no records of sea crossings from Norway or Finland, and small number of Swedish records are mostly to Danish islands. However, British records and observations, especially in southern and eastern coastal areas, show that in some years continental birds reach Britain.