Perisoreus canadensis
(Gray Jay)


Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Corvidae
Family Description: Crows and Jays

Physical Description:
10-13" (25-33 cm). Dark gray above and light gray below. Wings and tail feathers are lighter on edges. White hood has a dark gray crownClick word for definition and/or napeClick word for definition. Immatures are more uniformly gray.

Similar Species- Other jays.

Song:
Short, hollow whistled notes as well as jay-like cackling. Usually quiet.

Distribution:
Breeds from western and central Alaska, east across Canada, and south to northern California, eastern Oregon, Idaho, Utah, eastern Arizona, northern New Mexico, Colorado, portions of Great Plains and Great Lakes states, and New England. Winters mainly through breeding range.

Habitat:
Found in coniferousClick word for definition and mixed coniferous/deciduousClick word for definition forests (primarily spruce), including open and partly-open woodlands and around bogs. Often found around campgrounds. In preliminary results of northern Idaho study, Gray Jays were more abundant in fragmented than in continuous stands of old-growth forest.

Diet:
OmnivorousClick word for definition. Feeds on insects, berries, lichenClick word for definition, mice, carrionClick word for definition, and scraps from campsites. Probably eats birds' eggs.

Ecology:
Builds cup-shaped nest in coniferous (sometimes deciduous) tree, usually near trunk. Usually seen in small family groups or in pairs. Forages on ground, or sometimes in foliage. Stores food.

Reproduction:
Female incubatesClick word for definition 2-5 eggs (usually 3-4), for 16-18 days. Young are tended by both adults, and are capable of first flight when about 15 days old. Nest early, late Feb. or early March, using cached foo for female and young.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABPAV01010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Hejl, S.J. and L.C. Paige. 1993. Birds in continuous and fragmented forests of western red cedar/western hemlock in northern Idaho: a preliminary assessment. Draft manuscript, USDA Forest Service Inter. Res. Sta., Missoula. 18pp.


Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.