Gray Jay

Perisoreus canadensis

The Gray Jay, also Grey Jay, Canada Jay, or Whiskey Jack, is a member of the crow and jay family found in the boreal forests across North America north to the tree-line and in subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains south to New Mexico and Arizona.
Gray Jay  Geotagged,Gray Jay,Perisoreus canadensis,Spring,United States

Appearance

It is one of three members of the genus ''Perisoreus'', the others being the Siberian Jay, ''P. infaustus'', found from Norway to eastern Russia and the Sichuan Jay, ''P. internigrans'', restricted to the mountains of eastern Tibet and northwestern Sichuan. All three species store food and live year-round on permanent territories in coniferous forests.
Gray Jay at Picnic Table If you look into any North American bird book, they will note that in Canada or the Northern US, these love to hang out around camp sites and picnic tables. I had never seen one so I had big hopes when I finally went to Yellowstone NP in 2015. True, enough, we had a picnic lunch at a deserted campground (a rarity in Yellowstone in July) and it didn't take long for a few of these fellows to show up looking for handouts. The Jay family is great - often beautiful colors (even this one, although not as bright as the Blue Jays, is still an appealing mix of grays), large and noisy, and apparently one of the most intelligent non-human animals. Fall,Geotagged,Gray Jay,Perisoreus canadensis,United States,Wyoming,Yellowstone National Park

Distribution

The gray jay is a native resident from northern Alaska east to Newfoundland and Labrador and south to northern California, Idaho, Utah, east-central Arizona, north-central New Mexico, central Colorado, and southwestern South Dakota. It is also a native resident in northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan, northern New York, and northern New England.
Gray Jay  Fall,Geotagged,Gray Jay,Perisoreus canadensis,United States,bird

Status

Gray Jays are widespread in boreal and subalpine habitats only lightly occupied by humans. Significant human impacts may nevertheless occur through anthropogenic climate warming. Gray Jays at the northern edges of their range may benefit from the extension of spruce stands out onto formerly treeless tundra. A published study has documented a decline at the southern edge of the Gray Jay’s range, however, and plausibly linked a local decline in productivity to warmer temperatures in preceding autumns. Such warm temperatures may encourage spoilage of the perishable food items stored by Gray Jays upon which success of late winter nesting partly depends.
Gray Jay  Geotagged,Gray Jay,Perisoreus canadensis,United States,Winter

Behavior

Gray jays do not hammer food with their bill as do other jays, but wrench, twist, and tug food apart. Gray jays commonly carry large food items to nearby trees to eat or process for storage, possibly as defense against large scavengers. They are "scatterhoarders", caching food items among scattered sites for later consumption.

Any food intended for storage is manipulated in the mouth and formed into a bolus that is coated with sticky saliva, adhering to anything it touches. The bolus is stored in bark crevices, under tufts of lichen, or among conifer needles.

Risk and energy expenditure are factors in food selection for gray jays. Gray jays select food on the basis of profitability to maximize caloric intake. Increased handling, searching, or recognition times for a preferred food item lowers its profitability.

The gray jay takes advantage of man-made sources of food, hence the names "camp robber" and "whiskey Jack". According to Maccarone and Montevecchi, human observers do not inhibit gray jay's feeding behavior; however, Rutter claims that "once having identified man with food it does not forget". He found that after a nesting female was accustomed to being fed by humans she could be enticed to leave the nest during incubation and brooding.
Canada Jay Also called a Wiskyjack or Gray Jay, the Canada Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) is a friendly bird of the Boreal forest at the Chan Lake Territorial Park, Northwest Territories, Canada. Canada,Canada Jay,Chan Lake Territorial Park,Geotagged,Gray Jay,Northwest Territories,Perisoreus canadensis,Summer

Habitat

The vast majority of Gray Jays live where there is a strong presence of one or more of black spruce, white spruce, Englemann spruce, jack pine, or lodgepole pine. Gray Jays do not inhabit the snowy, coniferous, and therefore seemingly appropriate Sierra Nevada of California where no spruce and neither of the two named pines occur. Nor do Gray Jays live in lower elevations of coastal Alaska or British Columbia dominated by Sitka spruce.

The key habitat requirements may be sufficiently cold temperatures to ensure successful storage of perishable food and tree bark with sufficiently pliable scales arranged in a shingle-like configuration that allows Gray Jays to wedge food items easily up into dry, concealed storage locations. Storage may also be assisted by the antibacterial properties of the bark and foliage of boreal tree species. An exception to this general picture may be the well-marked subspecies ''P. c. obscurus'', once given separate specific status as the “Oregon Jay”. It lives right down to the coast from Washington to northern California in the absence of cold temperatures or the putatively necessary tree species.
Whiskey Jack Little Whiskey Jack showing off some of his moves! Canada,Geotagged,Gray Jay,Perisoreus canadensis

Reproduction

Nesting typically occurs in March and April. Male gray jays choose a nest site in a mature coniferous tree and take the lead in construction. Gray jay nests were found in black spruce, white spruce, and balsam fir trees in Ontario and Quebec, with black spruce predominating. Cup-shaped nests were constructed with brittle dead twigs pulled off of trees, as well as bark strips and lichens. Cocoons of the forest tent caterpillar filled the interstitial spaces of the nest.
Canada Jay Ruffling up for the camera, the Canada Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) is found in a pine tree on the Spruce Bog Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Algonquin Park celebrates 125 years. Algonquin Provincial Park,Canada,Canada Jay,Fall,Geotagged,Gray Jay,Ontario,Perisoreus canadensis,Spruce Bog Trail,bird

Predators

Gray jays are consumed by several bird species including great gray owls, northern hawk-owls, and Mexican spotted owls. Gray jay remains were found in the nest sites of fisher and American marten. Red squirrel eat gray jay eggs.

Gray jays warn each other of predators by whistling alarm notes, screaming, chattering, or imitating, and/or mobbing predators.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyCorvidae
GenusPerisoreus
SpeciesP. canadensis