Corvidae – Crows, Jays, Magpies & Allies

Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri ©Ian Montgomery Website

The Corvidae, also known as the corvids or simply the crow family, are a fascinating family of birds indeed. The corvids happen to be one of the larger bird families with 130 species. Many people do not know the crow family includes a variety of birds other than the crows and ravens including the jays, rooks, treepies, magpies, choughs (pronounced ‘chuff’), jackdaws, jays and nutcrackers. The variation within this family is abundant. The similarities are as well.

Corvids are the most intelligent, adaptive birds in the world. Captivating and outwardly curious they use ordinary objects as tools and toys. Wise enough to know the benefits of playing, they know how to have fun. They are some of the only birds who engage in social play like humans. They are loyal, mating for life and often very social. They are forward thinking birds – always planning ahead, caching food up to a year and then retrieving it from hundreds of different locations with ease. They are hunted, forced out of every kind of habitat, even eaten and yet still they thrive.

Heraldry, album covers and art don their faces. Legends have depicted them as harbingers of darkness and fire or as symbols of luck and prosperity. The Beatles crooned them infamous. Poets from Shakespeare to Edgar Allen Poe penned them permanent. From the Dwarf jay Cyanolyca nana (the smallest corvid) to the Thick-billed Raven Corvus crassirostris (the largest corvid) they are the most well-known birds by word of mouth, by sight or by reputation. Whether you are an ornithologist, an enthusiastic birder or a teenage goth this is definitely a family of birds worth investigating.

According to the Handbook of the Birds of the world there are 130 species in this family; they are:

Crested Jay Platylophus galericulatus
Black Magpie Platysmurus leucopterus

Siberian Jay Perisoreus infaustus
Sichuan Jay Perisoreus internigrans
Grey Jay Perisoreus canadensis

Black-collared Jay Cyanolyca armillata
White-collared Jay Cyanolyca viridicyanus
Turquoise Jay Cyanolyca turcosa
Beautiful Jay Cyanolyca pulchra
Azure-hooded Jay Cyanolyca cucullata
Black-throated Jay Cyanolyca pumilo
Dwarf Jay Cyanolyca nanus
White-throated Jay Cyanolyca mirabilis
Silvery-throated Jay Cyanolyca argentigula

Bushy-crested Jay Cyanocorax melanocyaneus
San Blas Jay Cyanocorax sanblasianus
Yucatan Jay Cyanocorax yucatanicus
Purplish-backed Jay Cyanocorax beecheii
Violaceous Jay Cyanocorax violaceus
Azure Jay Cyanocorax caeruleus
Purplish Jay Cyanocorax cyanomelas
Curl-crested Jay Cyanocorax cristatellus
Tufted Jay Cyanocorax dickeyi
Black-chested Jay Cyanocorax affinis
White-tailed Jay Cyanocorax mystacalis
Cayenne Jay Cyanocorax cayanus
Azure-naped Jay Cyanocorax heilprini
Plush-crested Jay Cyanocorax chrysops
White-naped Jay Cyanocorax cyanopogon
Green Jay Cyanocorax luxuosus
Inca Jay Cyanocorax yncas

Brown Jay Psilorhinus morio

Black-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta colliei
White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Steller’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri

Mexican Jay Aphelocoma wollweberi
Transvolcanic Jay Aphelocoma ultramarina
Unicolored Jay Aphelocoma unicolor
California Scrub Jay Aphelocoma californica
Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay Aphelocoma woodhouseii
Island Scrub Jay Aphelocoma insularis
Florida Scrub Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens

Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Black-headed Jay Garrulus lanceolatus
Lidth’s Jay Garrulus lidthi

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus
Iberian Magpie Cyanopica cooki

Sri Lanka Blue Magpie Urocissa ornata
Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha
White-winged Magpie Urocissa whiteheadi

Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
Indochinese Green Magpie Cissa hypoleuca
Javan Green Magpie Cissa thalassina
Bornean Green Magpie Cissa jefferyi

Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
Sumatran Treepie Dendrocitta occipitalis
Bornean Treepie Dendrocitta cinerascens
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae
White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra
Collared Treepie Dendrocitta frontalis
Andaman Treepie Dendrocitta bayleii

Racket-tailed Treepie Crypsirina temia
Hooded Treepie Crypsirina cucullata

Ratchet-tailed Treepie Temnurus temnurus

Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Black-billed Magpie Pica hudsonia
Yellow-billed Magpie Pica nuttalli

Stresemann’s Bushcrow Zavattariornis stresemanni

Henderson’s Ground Jay Podoces hendersoni
Biddulph’s Ground Jay Podoces biddulphi
Pander’s Ground Jay Podoces panderi
Pleske’s Ground Jay Podoces pleskei

Clark’s Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Large-spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga multipunctata

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus

Piapiac Ptilostomus afer

Western Jackdaw Coloeus monedula
Daurian Jackdaw Coloeus dauuricus

House Crow Corvus splendens
New Caledonian Crow Corvus moneduloides
Banggai Crow Corvus unicolor
Slender-billed Crow Corvus enca
Violet Crow Corvus violaceus
Piping Crow Corvus typicus
Flores Crow Corvus florensis
Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi

Long-billed Crow Corvus validus
White-billed Crow Corvus woodfordi
Bougainville Crow Corvus meeki
Brown-headed Crow Corvus fuscicapillus
Grey Crow Corvus tristis
Cape Crow Corvus capensis
Rook Corvus frugilegus
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos

Northwestern Crow Corvus caurinus
Tamaulipas Crow Corvus imparatus
Sinaloa Crow Corvus sinaloae
Fish Crow Corvus ossifragus
Hispaniolan Palm Crow Corvus palmarum
Cuban Palm Crow Corvus minutus
Jamaican Crow Corvus jamaicensis
Cuban Crow Corvus nasicus

White-necked Crow Corvus leucognaphalus
Hawaiian Crow Corvus hawaiiensis
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Collared Crow Corvus torquatus
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Eastern Jungle Crow Corvus levaillantii
Indian Jungle Crow Corvus culminatus

Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Bismarck Crow Corvus insularis
Little Crow Corvus bennetti
Forest Raven Corvus tasmanicus
Little Raven Corvus mellori
Australian Raven Corvus coronoides
Pied Crow Corvus albus
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis
Somali Crow Corvus edithae
Northern Raven Corvus corax
Chihuahuan Raven Corvus cryptoleucus

Fan-tailed Raven Corvus rhipidurus
White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis
Thick-billed Raven Corvus crassirostris

Species Links
  • Florida Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens

    IUCN Species Status
    27-31 cm. Medium-sized, blue and grey jay with long tail. Adults have blue wings, tail and head with white supercilium and black facial patch, grey mantle, whitish underparts, black legs and bill.
  • Florida Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Florida Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens

    Species Account
    The Florida Scrub Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens is one of the species of scrub jay native to North America. It is the only species of bird endemic to the U.S. state of Florida and one of only 15 species endemic to the continental United States.
  • Florida Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens

    Cornell Species Account
    A bold and curious bird, the Florida Scrub-Jay can become hand-tame in areas where it comes in contact with people.
  • Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri

    Species Account
    The Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a jay native to western North America, closely related to the blue jay found in the rest of the continent, but with a black head and upper body. It is also known as the long-crested jay, mountain jay, and pine jay.
  • Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri

    Cornell Species Account
    A large, dark jay of evergreen forests in the mountainous West. Steller’s Jays are common in forest wildernesses but are also fixtures of campgrounds, parklands, and backyards, where they are quick to spy bird feeders as well as unattended picnic items.
  • Crowgyrls


Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 130

Useful Reading
  • Crows

    | (Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World) | by Candace Savage | Greystone Books | 2015 | Paperback | 130 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations | ISBN: 9781771640855 Buy this book from
  • Crows and Jays

    | By Steve Madge & Hilary Burn | A & C Black | 2013 | Hardback | 192 pages, 30 plates with colour illustrations; b/w illustrations, 120 colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781408157381 Buy this book from
  • In the Company of Crows and Ravens

    | John M Marzluff & Tony Angell | Yale University Press | 2007 | Paperback | 384 pages, 108 b/w illustrations | ISBN: 9780300122558 Buy this book from
  • The Magpies

    | (The Ecology and Behaviour of Black-billed and Yellow-billed Magpies) | by Tim Birkhead | T & AD Poyser Ltd (A & C Black) | 2010 | Hardback | 270 pages, photos, illustrations, tables | ISBN: 9781408140246 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • Corvidae: Crows & Ravens Interesting website from a corvidae obsessive
Forums & Mailing Lists

    Mailing List
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Other Links
  • Corvid Corner

    Facebook Page
    We are here to offer a friendly environment built around corvid rescue. We are building a network of rehabbers across the U.K. and have implemented a mentor programme for beginners interested in helping. The link to add yourself to our database is on the pinned post at the top of the feed.

    The Language and Culture of Crows. A site for cooperative research on the language and culture of the American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • Raven Haven

    Raven Haven is the home of Tarquin's story; Tarquin is a very special Raven and the founder of Raven Haven, which is now a rescue home for Ravens and all the members of the Crow family and many other birds too.

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

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