Steller's Jay



Domain: EukaryaSteller's Jay Foraging
Steller’s Jay belongs to the domain Eukarya because their cells have a true nucleus and organelles bound in a membrane (AWD 2001).
Kingdom: Animalia
Cyanocitta stelleri belongs to the kingdom Animalia because it is multicellular and heterotrophic.  The Steller’s Jays cells also lack the cell wall that is associated with plant cells (ADW 2001).
Phylum: Chordata
The Steller’s Jay belongs in the phylum Chordata because they contain a notochord.  The notochord extends a majority of the length of the body that helps stabilize the body and supports the body during movement.  Some other characteristics in this phylum are bilateral symmetry and a deuterostome developmental pattern (ADW 2001).
Class: Aves
Steller’s Jay fits into the Aves class because it has feathers for flight, horny beak with no teeth, a hard shelled egg with a large yolk, strong skeleton, and a large muscular stomach.  The parent bird also takes care of its young for an extended period of time until they are grown (ADW 2001). 
Order: Passeriformes
Passeriformes means “perching bird”, which is why Steller’s Jay fits into this category.  These birds have four toes total with three unwebbed toes in the front and one flexible toe in the back called a hallux.  This toe arrangement allows them to easily perch on branches (WJJ 2014).
Family: CorvidaeScrub Jay vs. Steller's Jay
The Corvidae family is comprised of crows, jays, ravens, and magpies.  This family typically contains birds that are larger than other birds in the order Passeriformes.  They also have a long bill with bristles covering their nostrils.  These birds typically live in open areas such as grasslands, scrub areas, and open forests.  Birds belonging to the Corvidae family are often omnivores eating a wide variety of food.  Some birds in this family including Steller’s Jay also store their food.  It is also typical for both sexes to look similar in the Corvidae.  A lot of birds in this family are also very intelligent (WJJ 2014).
Genus: Cyanocitta
The word Cyanocitta means blue jay (CAC 2013).  When broken down cyan means blue and citta refers to a chattering bird which is a jay.  The genus contains only the Blue Jay and Steller’s Jay.  Both of these birds are new world jays differing slightly in color.  They also both have separate ranges that rarely overlap with Steller’s jay being found in western United States and the Blue Jay being found in the eastern United States (Greene et al., 1998).
Species: Cyanocitta stelleri
The Cyanocitta stelleri is placed here because it is a dark blue or black crested jay.  Its closest relative the Cyanocitta cristata and Steller’s jay mitochondrial sequences also differ by 10.7% meaning they are quite different genetically (Greene et al., 1998).  The specific name stelleri comes from George W. Steller, the German zoologist that discovered the jay (CAC 2013).


The Steller’s Jay is in the class, Aves, which are birds.  Some of the basic characteristics of avian species are feathers, a toothless horny beak, a strong stomach and skeleton (ADW 2001).  The phylogeny to the left is showing how closely related the classes, Aves and Crocodilia, are to each other.  The classes, Testudinata, Lepidosauria, and Crocodilia are all reptiles (TR 2002), and all share a common ancestor with the class, Aves.  Birds are classified with the reptiles because they share some similar characteristics.  The biggest similarity is Aves and Crocodilia are both amniotes, meaning their eggs are protected by and extra membrane (ADW 2001). 




The phylogeny below is showing how the class of Aves breaks down.  As stated above, the Steller’s Jay is part of the class Aves.  Steller’s Jays are in the order Passeriformes, which are the perching birds, and further broken down into the family Corvidae, which are jays, magpies, and crows (CAC 2013).  The phylogeny is showing how the genus, Cyanocitta, is related to other genus.  The Steller’s Jay is in the genus Cyanocitta (CAC 2013).  There are only two different species in the genus, Cyanocitta, the Steller’s Jay and the Blue Jay.  Cyanocitta means blue jay (CAC 2013), which why there are only two species in the genus.  The closest genus to Cyanocitta is Aphelocoma, which are the scrub jays.     




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