Boreal Birds: Gray Jay

Photo of Gray Jay
Adamstown Township, ME | 24 Feb 2017

Last week, two other birders and I ventured to northern Oxford County in search of boreal birds. I'd hoped to encounter a variety of finches (White-winged and Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, etc.) as I did last February when I visited the same area during my 2016 Maine Big Year. But as it turns out, this year's trip featured far fewer finches -- only two American Goldfinches and a flock of 12+ Pine Grosbeaks -- and was instead highlighted by Gray Jays, seen at 3 different spots along Route 16.

Photo of Gray Jay
Magalloway Plantation, ME | 24 Feb 2017

Gray Jays live year-round in parts of northern New England, where they nest notably earlier in the year than most other birds of the boreal forest. Incubation often starts before the first day of spring.

Like Blue Jays, Gray Jays are opportunistic omnivores whose diet includes insects, fruits, nuts, small mammals and birds, and carrion. They're also known to help themselves to food left unattended by hikers and campers, and in some places they'll even eat food right out of people's hands.

Photo of Gray Jay
Stetsontown Township, ME | 25 May 2016

Adults (above) are largely gray and white, with a long tail and a rounded head with a partial black cap. Juvenile birds (below) are dark gray overall. To learn more about Gray Jays, visit All About Birds.

Photo of Gray Jay (juvenile)
Stetsontown Township, ME | 25 May 2016

2 thoughts on “Boreal Birds: Gray Jay”

  1. Gray Jays are always a joy to see when I’m hiking in the While Mountains – they’re so bold and inquisitive. But, I had no idea the juveniles lacked the distinctive markings of the adults. Thanks for the informative post.

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