Pinyon Jay

ID Info
Silhouette JaysJays

Pinyon Jay

Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Corvidae
Basic Description

The Pinyon Jay is a crestless, blue jay that travels in large noisy flocks throughout pinyon-juniper, chaparral, and scrub-oak woodlands in the western United States. This strong-flying jay gives a crowlike kaw to keep in touch with the group. Flocks stick together year-round, breeding and foraging together. They scour the landscape for food, especially the seeds of pinyon pines, which they eat on the spot or hide by the tens of thousands to eat later. Their excellent spatial memory helps them find buried seeds.

More ID Info
image of range map for Pinyon JayRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Pinyon Jays move about the landscape in a nomadic fashion, which makes finding them a bit challenging. Head to the top of a hill or other good lookout point and scan the tops of pinyon pines below. They aren't always in the trees though, so be sure to look for them foraging on the ground as well. They tend to be rather noisy, so if they are around you will hear their constant crowlike kaws.

Other Names
  • Chara Piñonera (Spanish)
  • Geai des pinèdes (French)

Backyard Tips

Pinyon Jays often come to bird feeders for a quick meal of sunflower seeds, suet, cracked corn, or peanuts. Find out what feeder is best for them by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

  • Cool Facts