Black-headed Jay

Black-headed Jay  Garrulus lanceolatus

Etymology :

  • Garrulus : Latin word for babbling, chattering derived from garrire – to chatter
  • Lanceolatus : Latin word for spear-shaped derived from lancea- lance, spear.

Vernacular Names : H.P.: Ban sarrah, Ban bakra

Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayas.

Description: Size of 33 cm. It has a black hood, elongated crown feathers erectable into ruffled crest, greyish-pink body and relatively long, barred blue tail. The bill is small, rather stout. Almost entire head is black, chin and throat streaked white on black background, side of neck, hindneck and most of body plumage pinkish-grey, with grey tones highlighted when viewed in dull light; underparts, especially belly and undertail-coverts, pinker than greyer upperparts. The tail is blue, closely barred with black, wider but still narrow black subterminal bar highlighting white tips of all feathers; upperwing pattern complex, in essence lesser and median coverts black, primary coverts white, outer secondaries blue and narrowly barred black, with wider black subterminal bar and white tip, tertials light grey with black subterminal bar and white tip, primaries dark grey, outer webs marbled bluish and narrowly edged whitish; iris reddish-brown to dark brown; bill pale olive-grey to pale horn; legs bluish-grey. The sexes are similar.

Habitat: It is found in forests, preferring mixed pine-oak and cedar-oak woodlands. It breeds between 1500 m and 4000 m, descending a little lower in winter.

Food Habits: It is omnivorous. It eats invertebrates during breeding season, also small lizards and the eggs and nestlings of small birds; diet includes variety of seeds and berries, especially in autumn and winter, including pine seeds. Scavenges discarded household food scraps around villages. It forages in more open situations than either of those, and often found alongside mixed-species groups, such as babblers and Laughingthrushes, as they roam through shrubby gulleys. It readily perches in open like rock outcrops in forests, prominent treetops, or large bushes on scrubby hillsides.

Breeding Habits: Breeds in April-May. The nest is built by both sexes. The nest is a deep loose foundation of twigs, with deep cup lined with rootlets, grass stems and black fungal rhizoids like horsehair, usually positioned above ground in fork towards top of small tree or in large shrub on degraded hillside or near edge of forest. It lays a clutch of 3–5 eggs. The incubation is done by female only, fed on nest by male for a period 16 days. The nestling period is 20 days.