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Pinyon Jay

Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus

Length: 10.5 inches Wingspan: 15 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Grayish-blue overall, heavy black bill, short tail.

Pinyon Jay - Gymnorhinus cyanocephalusWell named, the Pinyon Jay relies heavily on the seeds of the pinyon pine as a food source.  When pine-seed sources are low, large flocks may be seen in other nearby habitats as they search for alternate food sources.

Habitat: Generally found in and around pinyon pine and pinyon/junipor forests.

Diet: Feeds heavily on pinyon pine seeds, also other pine seeds.  Will also eat other seeds and nuts, waste grain, fruits and berries, many insects in the summer, eggs and young birds, and garbage.

Behavior: Sociable at all times, including during the breeding season.  Also feeds in groups, using a variety of foraging techniques, including walking on the ground, climbing and flitting through trees and vegetation, or by capturing insects in flight.

Nesting: May and June

Song: Wide variety of caws and calls.

Migration: Not migratory, but will move from location to location depending upon food supplies.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Pinyon Jay sightings

Similar Species: Steller's Jay, Western Scrub Jay (not found in South Dakota)

Conservation Status: Overall populations are generally stable, but can swing wildly in the short term with availability of pine seeds.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Pinyon Jay

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Pinyon Jay"

3) Pinyon Jay

Photo Information: Summer 2007 - Peter Wallack, under license.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Pinyon Jay - Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon permanent resident in the far western part of the state.

Additional Pinyon Jay Photos (coming soon!)