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Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus


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Pinyon Jay
credit: FWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Corvidae, Crows, Magpies, Jays view all from this family

Description ADULT Has blue plumage overall, darkest on crown, back, and wings, and palest on throat and belly; note streaking on throat. Bill is slender and dark and legs are blackish. JUVENILE Rather uniformly pale blue-gray.

Dimensions Length: 9-11 3/4" (23-30 cm)

Habitat Widespread and fairly common resident of pinyonjuniper forests; declining, probably due to habitat loss and degradation, and on the Audubon Watchlist.

Observation Tips Listen for the distinctive call. If you find one Pinyon Jay, you are likely to find lots.

Range Plains, Southwest, Northwest, California, Texas, Rocky Mountains

Voice Call is an odd nasal, quail-like woah-keeh-keeh.

Discussion Subtly colorful corvid, with the body proportions and bill shape of Clark's Nutcracker. Social, typically living in large (often 100+ individuals) flocks, some individuals of which are always on lookout for danger. As name suggests, feeds primarily on seeds of pinyon pines, but omnivorous and opportunistic diet also includes other types of seeds, as well as fruits and insects. Nests colonially. Sexes are similar.