Pinyon Jay: Small, crestless, stocky jay with blue-gray body. Head is darker blue and has pale streaks on throat. Tail is short. Bill, legs, feet are black. Feeds on pine seeds, grain, fruit, berries, insects and eggs and young of other birds. Steady bouyant and direct flight with deep wing beats.
Range and Habitat
Pinyon Jay: Resident from central Oregon and Montana southward to central Arizona, New Mexico, and extreme northwestern Oklahoma. Preferred habitats include ponderosa pines, pinyon-junipers, and forests of mixed pine and oaks.
Pinyon Jays store seeds in the fall to eat in the winter and early spring. They have a very good memory and can hidden seeds even under cover of snow. Mated pairs appear to coordinate their food caching so that their cache locations are known to each other.
Their scientific name, Gymnorhinus, which means “bare nostrils”, refers to the fact that, unlike its close relatives, it does not have feathers at the base of its bill. This allows them to probe deep into pitch-covered pinecones to extract seeds without fouling the feathers that cover the nostrils of other jays.
They live in large flocks that may number up to 500 and may spend their entire lives in the flock into which they are born.
A group of jays has many collective nouns, including a "band", "cast", "party", and "scold" of jays.
The Pinyon Jay has a fixed or limited range which encompasses regions of the western and southwestern United States, where the birds choose habitats along the foothills and lower mountain slopes. Ranging from central Oregon, east to western South Dakota and south to Baja, California and central New Mexico, the birds preferred habitat and feeding grounds include pine forests, shrublands and even rural gardens. Currently this species is under threat of habitat loss from deforestation of pinon-juniper woodland which is the location for massive flock feedings. Due to this, population trends for the Pinyon Jay have a present evaluation level of Vulnerable.