A Pinyon Jay is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Pinyon Jays. We have also put together a list of fun Pinyon Jay t-shirts, Pinyon Jaybird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Pinyon Jays
It is also known as the “blue crow”. It is found in western North America from Oregon to California.
Description and Identification
Pinyon Jays are medium-sized jays around 10.2 – 11.4 inches long with a wingspan of
roughly 18 inches. They are crestless jays, as a result of which they bear a crow-like
appearance; the resemblance is further seen in their shorter tails and longer, more pointed
bills when compared to other jays. Like many jays, there is very little sexual dimorphism
exhibited in the species. Both males and females have dusky blue bodies with a paler,
bluish-gray belly, and a dusky white throat.
Pinyon Jay Size
Length: 10 inches
Wingspan: 19 inches
Both the males and the females are averagely the same size.
Pinyon Jay Appearance
The Pinyon Jay is a medium-sized jay that has a mostly blue appearance. It has a wide range of different shades of blue. Its head and face are bright blues bordering on a dull gray. It has a short blue tail that has pale blue streaks that run length-wise.
The adults have a large black bill. The juveniles, on the other hand, appear similar to the adults, but have short, black bills and have paler shades of blue and ruffled feathers.
Pinyon Jay Feeding
Their dietary composition consists mainly of pinyon-pine seeds, acorns, juniper berries, and
other wild berries, cultivated grains, and some occasional insects, lizards, snakes, nestling
birds, and small mammals. Despite their omnivorous diet, they only consume animal matter
during the breeding seasons to provide nestlings with protein. Pinyon-pine seeds are the
largest part of their diet and they forage for them in groups, often caching them for later
Pinyon Jays mainly feed on pinyon seeds from the trees they live on. These seeds are highly nutritious and provide the birds with the nutrients they require. They also feed on berries, caterpillars, spiders, larvae, sorghum, barley, oats, and wheat. They are not shy of interactions with humans.
During feeding, some of the birds appear to act as sentries and watch out for predators as the rest eat.
Pinyon Jay Habitat
These jays thrive in pinyon-juniper woodlands and low-elevation ponderosa pine forests in
the south-western region of the United States. Pinyon species that they are drawn towards
are mainly Colorado pinyon, singleleaf Pinyon, alligator juniper, Parry pinyon, Mexican
pinyon, Utah Juniper, Rocky Mountain juniper, and California Juniper. As a result, the
climates that they thrive in intend to be arid, semiarid, or occasionally dry subhumid. Their
range of habitable elevations is vast and varies by region. The average range is from 4,000
– 8,000 feet in foothills, mesas, plateaus, and low mountains, but they have been noted to
forage at elevations up to 11,500 feet. They also occupy sagebrush, scrub oak, and
Just as their name suggests, these birds nest in pinyon-juniper woodlands. They can also be found in pine forests. The birds operate at optimal levels in arid, semiarid, or occasionally, dry and sub-humid regions.
They prefer pinyon trees because they provide them with food, roosting, and nesting sites. They also use the trees as breeding sites.
Range and Migration
Pinyon Jays are highly social blue jays that are found in the scrubby woodlands of western
The United States. They are non-migratory and are residents of the areas spanning from central
Oregon to western South Dakota, south to northern Baja California, north-western and east-
central Arizona, central New Mexico, and western Oklahoma. They wander within their
breeding range during nonbreeding seasons in response to the availability of pinyon seeds.
Pinyon Jay Life and Behavior
They are highly social birds and live in large flocks that can contain 250 or more birds. The flocks are made of mated pairs and they’re young. The females lay 3 to 4 eggs every season and move into the pair’s nest, found in pine, pinyon, juniper, and oak trees. Though they live in large groups, each tree carries only one nest.
Pinyon Jay Nesting
Pinyon Jays are found nesting in areas that are in close proximity to good crops of seed from
the previous fall. These areas tend to be near ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, and junipers,
where they situate their nests at a height of 3 – 115 feet above the ground. The nests are
placed next to tree trunks or on the tip of a branch surrounded by dense foliage. They have
also been noted to place nests towards the south side of the tree in some areas, presumably to ensure additional warmth. The construction of the nests is a joint effort by both males and
females, with males bringing in the supplies and females weaving the cups together. A large,
bulky cup of twigs is made with a central layer of grasses while the inner cup is made with
feathers, horsehair, rootlets, or shredded bark. Studies have shown that the birds can be
highly adaptive and can improve on their nest sites based on previous experiences. For
instance, the birds have learned to nest at lower heights to enhance concealment in order to
prevent predators at higher, more exposed areas of trees.
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 Pinyon Jays
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Pinyon 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.
Pinyon Jay T-shirts
If you love the Pinyon Jay you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Pinyon 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 Pinyon 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.
Pinyon Jay Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Pinyon 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 Pinyon 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 Pinyon 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.