|Conservation status||Localized and erratic in occurrence, so populations are hard to monitor. Has disappeared from many former nesting areas. There are some indications of a continuing decline in population in recent years.|
|Habitat||Scattered or logged forest, river groves, burns, foothills. Because of aerial foraging, needs open country in summer, with large trees for nest sites and foraging perches. Often in cottonwood groves, open pine-oak woods, burned or cut-over woods. Winter habitat chosen in autumn for food supply, usually groves of oaks, sometimes date palms, orchards of pecans, walnuts, almonds, fruit.|
During spring and summer, forages mainly by catching insects in flight: sallying forth from a perch or circling high in air to catch flying insects, or swooping down to catch those on the ground. Also gleans some insects from tree surfaces, and takes small fruits in trees. During fall, harvests acorns or other nuts, breaks them into pieces by pounding with bill, then stores them in bark crevices or holes in trees, to feed on them during winter.
6-7, sometimes 4-9. White. Incubation is by both sexes (with males incubating at night and part of day), 12-16 days. Young: Both parents bring back insects in bill to feed nestlings. Young leave nest 4-5 weeks after hatching, remain with parents for some time thereafter.
Both parents bring back insects in bill to feed nestlings. Young leave nest 4-5 weeks after hatching, remain with parents for some time thereafter.
Mostly insects, nuts, fruits. Feeds on a wide variety of insects; also eats fruits and berries, plus acorns and other nuts.
Pairs may mate for life, and may use the same nest site repeatedly. Displays (used in both aggression and courtship) include perching with wings spread, head lowered, neck feathers ruffed out; floating circular flight around nest tree. Nest site is cavity excavated in tree (tree or limb usually dead), sometimes in utility pole, at site apparently chosen by male. Height of nest varies, from 5' to well over 100' above ground, probably usually lower than 60'.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Some may be permanent residents, others move south and to lower elevations in winter. Quite variable from year to year; in some winters, large numbers invade lowlands of southwest. May migrate singly or in flocks.
- 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 this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsUsually silent, but occasionally gives a low churring note.
Learn more about this sound collection.