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Gray Jay - Perisoreus canadensis

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
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FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF:


 

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Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
A long-tailed, small-billed jay without a crest; slightly smaller than Blue Jay; 27.4 to 31 cm; 62 to 82 g. Nares covered by feathers and bill appears short. Loose and fluffy dull-colored plumage. Bill, legs, and feet black. Adults have white or lighter auricular area, dark gray or brownish gray upper parts, whitish throat often extending into a collar around the neck, and buffy gray to whitish under parts. Head white except for dull black crown patch. Juveniles are sooty black but may have whitish subocular stripe. Juvenile bill initially white, then turning black (Strickland and Ouellet 1993).

General Distribution
Montana Range



Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3750

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Habitat
A widespread resident of North America's boreal and sub-alpine coniferous forests (Strickland and Ouellet 1993).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Arthropods, berries, carrion, nestling birds, fungi. Copious sticky saliva from enlarged salivary glands is used to fasten food items in trees, food that is used extensively by pairs throughout the winter and even during other times of the year (Strickland and Ouellet 1993).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nests during late winter in cold, snowy, and apparently foodless conditions. Nests of low to moderate height, often 1 or 2 trees north of north edge of open bog, road allowance, or other break in the forest. For pairs having no choice, no consistent tendency to prefer lowland over upland sites. Clutch size most often 3 or 4 eggs (Stickland and Ouellet 1993). Young were seen out of the nest on April 16. Egg dates are likely similar to those in Colorado: March 17 to May 2. In Alberta they sometimes nest in March.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • American Gem Corporations, USA, Helena, MT., 1996, Application for an Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operations: Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine, Granite County, Montana. August 1996
    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Godfrey, W. Earl. 1966. The birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa. 428 pp.
    • Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
    • Madge, S. and H. Burn. 1994. Crows and Jays: A guide to crows, jays, and magpies of the world. Houghton Mifflin Company, N.Y. 191 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Salt, W.R. and J.R. Salt. 1976. The birds of Alberta. Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, Alberta. xv + 498 pp.
    • Strickland, D. and H. Ouellet. 1993. Gray Jay (PERISOREUS CANADENSIS). In The Birds of North America, No. 40. A. Poole and F. Gill, eds. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologist's Union, Washington, D.C. 22 pp.
    • Strickland, Dan, and Henri Ouellet. 1993. Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis). Species Account Number 040. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
    • The Anaconda Co., 1976, Wildlife survey: The Anaconda Company Berkeley Complex 1976 Proposed Permit Area. May 6, 1976.
    • Tordoff, W., III. 1980. Selective predation of gray jays (Perisoreus canadensis) upon boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata). Evolution 34(5): 1004-1008.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Westech, Inc. [Western Technology and Engineering]. 1989. Reconnaissance of terrestrial wildlife resources in the Pauper's Dream project vicinity, Aug. 1988. Prepared for Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT. 22 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Gray Jay — Perisoreus canadensis.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_ABPAV01010.aspx
 
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