Gray Jay

Gray bird sits on tree branch

NPS Photo / Mary Lewandowski


Why Study Gray Jays

  • Unlike many birds that migrate to warmer locations during the winter, gray jays are year-round residents of the boreal forest.
  • Gray jays are among the first birds in Alaska to begin nesting. Gray jays begin laying eggs in March, when there is still snow on the ground and temperatures may plunge to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Gray jays survive Alaskan winters by storing, or caching, food items throughout the fall. Gray jays store perishable food that may spoil in warm temperatures.
  • Growing evidence suggests that the warming climate may be decreasing food available to gray jays in the winter. This limits their ability to raise young.

Research in the Park

Park biologists are working with partners at the University of Guelph and University of Washington to collect data on changes in the gray jay population. Their research provides new knowledge about gray jays' year-round requirements and examines how a warming climate may impact the future of gray jays in Alaska’s boreal forests.



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    Last updated: August 2, 2018

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