Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)

Grey Jay

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Corvidae | [latin] Perisoreus canadensis | [UK] Grey Jay | [FR] Mesangeai gris | [DE] Meisenhaher | [ES] Arrendajo Canadiense | [NL] Canadese Taiga-gaai


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Cyanolyca canadensis
Perisoreus canadensis NA n
Perisoreus canadensis albescens
Perisoreus canadensis bicolor
Perisoreus canadensis canadensis
Perisoreus canadensis capitalis
Perisoreus canadensis griseus
Perisoreus canadensis nigricapillus
Perisoreus canadensis obscurus
Perisoreus canadensis pacificus

Physical charateristics

A large, fluffy, gray bird of the cool northern forests; larger than a Robin, with a black patch or partial cap across the back of the head and a white forehead
(or crown); suggests a huge overgrown chickadee. Juvenile birds in their first summer are a dark sooty color, almost blackish; the only distinguishing mark is a whitish whisker
. Called “Whisky Jack” by woodsmen.

Listen to the sound of Grey Jay

[audio: Jay.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 43 cm wingspan max.: 47 cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 30 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 22 days fledging max.: 24 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : North


Spruce and fir forests.
Found in various kinds of coniferous and mixed forest, but rarely occurs where there are no spruce trees. Habitats include black spruce bogs in eastern Canada, forests of aspen and Engelmann spruce in Rock
ies, Sitka spruce and Douglas-fir on northwest coast.


Mated pairs stay together all year. Early in breeding season, male may perform courtship feeding of female. Nesting begins remarkably early, during late winter, while breeding grounds are still snow-covered.
Nest: Site is in dense conifer, close to trunk at base of branch; usually fairly low, averaging about 15′ above the ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky flat cup
of twigs, lichens, strips of bark, and caterpillar webs, lined with softer materials including animal hair and feathers.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. Pale gray to greenish, dotted with brown, olive, or reddish. Incubation is by female only, about 18-22 days. Male sometimes brings food to female on nest.
Young: Female broods young most of time at first while male brings food; later, both parents bring food to nest. Young leave nest at about 22-24 days, remain with parents for at least another month.

Feeding habits

Omnivorous. Remarkably varied diet includes insects, spiders, berries, seeds, fungi, small rodents, birds’ eggs, carrion.
An opportunist, flying from tree to tree searching for food. Enters campsites and even cabins to steal food. Will attack rodents and small birds. Sometimes catches insects in midair. Eats carrion, coming to kills left by wolves or other predators. Stores
food items, especially in summer, and may live on these caches in severe winter weather; the bird’s sticky saliva helps it stick pieces of food in bark crevices and other spots.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Grey Jay status Least Concern


Boreal forests of North America.
Migration: No regular migration. Birds in high mountains of West rarely move to lower elevations in winter. On rare occasions, small invasions of Gray Jays will move a short distance out of boreal forest in winter.

Distribution map

Grey Jay distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *