Gray Jay

photo by Phil Swanson

Perisoreus canadensis
L 11 1/2″ (29 cm).

Song or calls:
Whistled “pwee-ah,” and a variety of other notes.

Description: Sexes similar. Dark gray above, with a narrow, light band across the back; pale gray below; blackish nape contrasts with almost white forehead and face; long-tailed; small bill; and no crest. Juveniles are sooty-gray overall.

Habitat: Coniferous or mixed forests.

Where in Nebraska: Rare winter visitor or vagrant. Early records from Dawes, Sioux, Cuming, and Douglas Counties. Birds presumably originate from Black Hills, where the species commonly breeds.

Field Notes: Familiar camp and cabin visitors, and will boldly snatch food scraps from around campfires or even from inside tents.

Fun Facts: The Gray Jay stores seeds in caches using saliva to glue them to tree branches above the snowline.

Gray Jay - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)