Green Jay: Essence of the Rio Grande Valley

By Dave Hanks

Witness the greens of the forest They show forth in an interesting array From the lights to the darks They make a dazzling display

Green is dominant in the natural world, but there are few birds of this color. Female hummingbirds. some ducks, and a jay in southern Texas are about the only ones with any green coloration that you’ll see in the USA.

Texas may not be your scenery “cup of tea”, but it has the most bird species of any state. Especially in the Rio Grande Valley, there are types found nowhere else north of Mexico. Some are very brilliantly colored. Such is the multi-colored Green Jay. The word green may be misleading as there are large amounts of yellow, blue, and black. Also known as the “Inca Jay”, its range is from the Rio Grande Valley, to Mexico, to Central American, and to northern South America. Its range is expanding north, however.

It prefers open woodlands or brushy habitats and, like all jays, is very opportunistic. Opportunistic is a good trait to have because it lends to adaptability and species survival. These jays live in groups of one breeding pair, nestlings of the current year, plus one year olds. The group is very territorial. During the nesting season, the male will feed the female more than 6 times a day.

This cousin of our Magpie is also raucous. The harsh “shek, shek, shek”, sounds quite “magpie-ish”. It is also a good mimic and can mimic many other birds.

This bird is non-migratory and a special attraction for anyone interested in a southern Texas winter trip. It is very curious and will readily come to a feeding station. The specimen in the photo was lured in by peanut butter spread on the log (out of sight in the picture). Texas is a great bird watcher’s state and has many birding trails mapped out. McAllen, Texas recognizes the Green Jay as its official bird emblem.

(Photographed from a blind on a rancher’s property)