A Canada Jay is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Canada Jays. We have also put together a list of fun Canada Jay t-shirts, Canada Jaybird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Canada Jays
The Canada Jay, commonly known as the gray jay, is a passerine bird found in the Boreal Forest in North America. In other places, it is referred to as the “camp robber” or “whiskey jack”. It is also found in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.
Description and Identification
Canada Jays are smaller in size as compared to their other Jay counterparts but are
relatively large songbirds. They are not sexually dimorphic and therefore the males and
females are similar in appearance. Adults generally sport gray-black plumage on the
upper parts of their body with medium-dark coloration. The plumage on the underparts can
vary from a light gray to an off-white coloration. They have a predominantly white head
along with a gray or black crown and nape. The legs and feet are black. They have thick
plumage which provides insulation from the cold as they inhabit areas with lower
temperatures. The average adult measures between 9.8-13 inches in length and weighs
between 2.3-2.5 oz. Juveniles are covered with dark gray plumage.
Canada Jay Size
Length: 25 to 33 cm
Weight: 65 to 70 g
Wingspan: 45 cm
Both the males and females are of the same average size.
Canada Jay Appearance
The Canada Jay lives up to its name from its appearance. Adults have dark gray back feathers on top and light gray ones on their undersides. Their heads are mostly white with a dark gray nape and hood, with black eyes and a short, black beak. It has black legs and feet and a long medium gray tail with dark tips.
Juveniles are dark gray all over, gaining lighter shades as they grow older.
Canada Jay Life and Behavior
The jays live in pairs and may have only one mate for life. However, if a mate is widowed, they may seek out a new mate to continue breeding with. They build open cupped nests in the middle of their nesting grounds.
Male Canada Jays choose a nesting site in a conifer tree. The female builds the nest and lays 2 to 5 light green eggs. Parents work together to incubate the eggs and protect the nestlings and fledglings.
Canada Jay Feeding
Canada Jays are omnivores and have a diverse diet that includes seeds, berries, small rodents, insects, bird eggs, fungi, nestling birds, etc. They prey on young amphibians and have been sighted eating insects and ticks of geese and ducks’ plumages. They are known to regularly steal food from human campsites earning them the nickname ‘camp robber’. They also feed on carcasses and pieces of meat left behind by predatory animals. Canada Jays are also known to store food for the winters by sticking between barks of trees and inside small crevices. Their sticky tongue helps
them to make sure that the food is stuck to the tree and will not fall off.
Canada Jays are omnivorous, though they prefer food from animal life. They are opportunistic hunters and may snatch up small birds during flight. They eat winter ticks, long-toed salamanders, western chorus frogs, rodents, and nesting birds.
Canada Jay Habitat
The habitat preferred by Canada Jays are areas with spruce and fir trees. Some of the
areas where Canada Jays might be found include locales with black spruce, white
spruce, jack pine, and lodgepole pine. They are non-territorial birds and very inquisitive.
They are known to follow sounds and sights that are new in their locale. They are
known to follow humans in their area as they are a unique sight for these inquisitive
The key requirements for a gray jay habitat are low temperatures for effective food storage, tree barks with pliable scales that allow the jays to hang up food to dry, and concealed storage locations. They do not dwell in snowy or coniferous areas.
Range and Migration
As their name suggests, Canada Jays are found in abundance in most parts of Canada
and a few states in the US. Canada Jays were formerly known as Gray Jays. In
Canada, these birds are known to be inhabitants of the majority of the country, with their
range being quite vast. They can be found in Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest
Territory, parts of Nunavut extending all the way to Quebec. Their range in the United
States are limited as they prefer colder climates. They are present in states which are in
proximity to Canada; such as Washington, Montana, and Oregon; but populations can
also be found south of the Canadian territory in Wyoming and parts of Colorado.
Canada Jays are sedentary birds and can be found in their habitats all year round.
Canada Jay Nesting
Canada Jays are monogamous birds but will take up a new partner if widowed. Unlike
other birds, the pairs stay together all year round. Nesting starts in late winter. Their
nests are surprisingly close to the ground, usually built on a bark close to the trunk of
the tree. During the nesting season, the female lays between 2-5 eggs which are
incubated only by the female. Once the eggs have hatched the male forages for food to
bring to the younglings. The hatchlings leave the nest 22-27 days after hatching,
although they stay with their parents for a period of 1-2 months after.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Canada Jays
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Canada Jays are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Canada Jay T-shirts
If you love the Canada Jay you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Canada Jay Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Canada Jay is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Canada Jay Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Canada Jay. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Canada Jay
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Canada Jay
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.