|Conservation status||Most of breeding range is not subject to human disturbance. Has declined in a few areas after clearcutting of forest.|
|Family||Crows, Magpies, Jays|
|Habitat||Spruce and fir forests. Found in various kinds of coniferous and mixed forest, but rarely occurs where there are no spruce trees. Habitats include black spruce bogs in eastern Canada, forests of aspen and Engelmann spruce in Rockies, Sitka spruce and Douglas-fir on northwest coast.|
An opportunist in its foraging, flying from tree to tree searching for food. Boldly enters campsites and even cabins to steal food. Will attack rodents and small birds. Sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air. Regularly eats carrion, especially in winter, coming to kills left by wolves or other predators. Stores food items throughout the year, especially in summer, and may live on these caches in severe winter weather; the bird's sticky saliva helps it stick pieces of food in bark crevices and other spots. Can carry food items, even fairly large ones, in flight, sometimes carrying them with its feet.
3-4, sometimes 2-5. Pale gray to greenish, dotted with brown, olive, or reddish. Incubation is by female only, about 18-22 days. Male sometimes brings food to female on nest. Young: Female broods young most of time at first while male brings food; later, both parents bring food to nest. Young leave nest at about 22-24 days, remain with parents for at least another month.
Female broods young most of time at first while male brings food; later, both parents bring food to nest. Young leave nest at about 22-24 days, remain with parents for at least another month.
Omnivorous. Diet is remarkably varied, includes insects, spiders, berries, seeds, fungi, small rodents, birds' eggs, and carrion.
Mated pairs stay together all year, and defend permanent territories. Early in breeding season, male may perform courtship feeding of female. Nesting begins remarkably early, during late winter, while breeding grounds still snow-covered. Nest site is in dense conifer, close to trunk at base of branch; usually fairly low, averaging about 15' above the ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky flat cup of twigs, lichens, strips of bark, and caterpillar webs, lined with softer materials including animal hair and feathers.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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No regular migration. Birds in high mountains of west rarely move to lower elevations in winter. On rare occasions, small invasions of Canada Jays will move a short distance out of boreal forest in winter.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsWhee-ah, chuck-chuck; also scolds, screams, and whistles.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Canada Jay
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Canada Jay
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.