Juveniles are sooty with pale gray malar. Adults: gray back and tail, pale gray underparts. Short, black bill, black legs, long tail. Dark hood, pale forehead, frosty-whitish auriculars, throat, and nape. Three populations. Rocky Mountain are whiter headed, showing minimal black on the crown; Taiga and Pacific extensively dark-headed with brown-tinged back.
Length: 29 (cm) Wingspan: 45 (cm)
Rough cheh-cheh-cheh. Also whistled wee-ooh. Mimics; good imitators of Northern Pygmy-Owls.
Coniferous and boreal forests; rare in aspens or birches. Usually in sub-alpine habitats, but also at lower elevations.
Very bold and tame. Approach humans for handouts. Colloquially referred to as "Camp Robbers." Feeds on ground. Stores food by covering with saliva and sticking under tree branches. Up to 1000 stashes may be made in one day. Such stashes help them survive winters at high elevations.
Diet includes berries, nuts, insects, carrion and bird eggs and nestlings, and occasionally lichen or fungi.
As mentioned above, Gray Jays in the West can deliver a devastating, nigh crippling, imitation of N. Pygmy-Owl. There is a spot near Centerville Beach, Humboldt Co., CA in which Gray, Steller's, and W. Scrub-Jays essentially all occur in the same place--where straight spruce woods, some hardwoods, and human-impacted lowland openings dovetail. The springy heft of a trusting Gray Jay upon one's palm as it takes trail mix is something all N. Am. birders should savor at least once.
Citation: Personal Experience. I observe this regularly, highly confident.
Expanded Life History
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