Pinyon jay

Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus subfamily

Corvinae taxonomy

Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus Wied, 1841, Montana. Monotypic. other common names

French: Geai des pinèdes; German: Nacktschnabelhaher; Spanish: Chara piñonera.

physical characteristics

9.75-10.92 in (25-28 cm); 3.6 oz (103 g). Uniform dull blue plumage is darkest on head, brightest on breast, crown, and forehead, and palest on rump. Throat is whitish. Relatively fine, sharply pointed bill is blackish, as are the legs and feet.


West-central United States. Central Oregon east to South Dakota; may be found as far south as Baja, California, to western Oklahoma.


Dry mountain slopes of pinyon, juniper, and yellow pine. behavior

Highly gregarious, usually in large flocks, numbering up to 250 individuals. Flight is direct, accompanied by mewing calls.

feeding ecology and diet

Heavily dependent on conifer seeds. Will forage widely for invertebrates and other seeds, often visiting backyards.

reproductive biology

Cooperative breeder with young adults feeding chicks both before and after fledging. Colonial, well-spaced nests consisting of sticks and vegetation, cup lined with fine plants and wool. Generally three to four eggs laid February through May. Incubation 16 days; fledging 21 days.

conservation status

Not threatened. Locally common throughout its range. significance to humans

Known by the Hopi as the bird of war because of its habit of mobbing predators. ♦

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