Pinyon Jay

photo by Phil Swanson

Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus
L 10 1/2″ (27 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

High-pitched “caaa,” often quavering at end to resemble laughing “haa-a-a-a.”

Description: Sexes similar. Gray-blue overall, darkest on the head; blue throat streaked with white; no crest; long, slender bill; and a short tail. Immatures are paler, and grayer overall.

Behavior: Flight is direct, with rapid wingbeats.

pinyon jay
Habitat: Found in pine forests where the soil is fairly dry, and the trees are small and scattered.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon permanent resident of the Pine Ridge area. Vagrants seen in other parts of the state during the winter months.

Field Notes: Usually seen in large flocks, often numbering in the hundreds.

Fun Facts: Although omnivorous, the Pinyon Jay’s favorite food is pine seeds.