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Pinyon Jay - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Brian Hubbs
Capulin Volcano, New Mexico, May 2017
Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus


26-29cm (10¼-11½ in). A dull blue jay with a long and sharply pointed bill and a short tail.

  • Dusty blue above
  • Brighter blue on head
  • Greyer flight feathers and black inner webs of primaries
  • Whitish chin and throat
  • Underparts like upperparts or slightly paler
  • Black bill and legs
  • Dark brown eye

Females are similar but smaller and with a duller crown and cheek. Also the blue is paler.
Juveniles are similar to females but even more dull.


Western USA and Baja California in Mexico.
Locally common but habitat has been lost or degraded over much of its range.


This is a monotypic species[1] which is also the only member of its genus.
The described subspecis rostratus from Big Bear Valley is not accepted by most authorities.


Foothills where the pinyon pines Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla occur. In central Arizona and south California also in areas of ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa and Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi.


Often forms very large flocks of 250 or more birds, with several birds acting as sentries for the flock.


Includes the seed of the Pinyon pine and fruits and berries. Insects of many types are also eaten.


Nests are built as part of a colony. 3-4 eggs are laid and incubated for 16 days. Chicks fledge about 21 days later.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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