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Birds of Yosemite National Park (1954, 1963) by Cyril A. Stebbins and Robert C. Stebbins


JAYS, MAGPIES, AND CROWS

JAYS, MAGPIES, AND CROWS: Family Corvidae

STELLER'S JAY
STELLER’S JAY
STELLER’S JAY (Cyanocitta stelleri): 12-13 1/2 in. (Ill., p. 38) Forepart of body black; head strongly crested; often some light blue streaks on forehead which may extend to crest; under parts light blue; wings and tail deep blue crossbarred with black. Capable of a great variety of sounds, suggesting that it has a well-developed “language.”

Inhabits chiefly coniferous forests of the Transition and Canadian life zones, occasionally invading the lowlands in winter. Essentially R. with some down-mountain movement in winter. Abundant in the Yosemite region. One of the boldest and most conspicuous birds of the floor of Yosemite Valley.

PIÑON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus): 10-12 in. Whole body dull blue, more vivid on head; streaks of whitish on throat; tail relatively short; bill long and slender. Crow-like in flight. Often seen in flocks. Omnivorous but feeds to a considerable extent on piñon nuts.

Frequently associated with piñon and juniper but ranges into grasslands and open forests of other types. Breeds in the arid Upper Sonoran and Transition life zones. R. east of the Cascade-Sierran divides, but in fall and winter may wander far to the west. C. V. to Yosemite region where occasionally seen in Tuolumne Meadows and above the rim of Yosemite Valley.


SCRUB JAY
SCRUB JAY
SCRUB JAY (Aphelocoma coerulescens): 11 1/2-12 in. Head without crest; upper parts blue except middle of back grayish-brown; under parts grayish, lightest on throat; blue-black band (often not complete) on breast; white line over eye; sides of face blackish.

Frequents chiefly the broken woodland and chaparral of the Upper Sonoran life zone. Widespread R. in the western foothills of the Sierra, including the Yosemite region, but absent from higher elevations. Occasional in Yosemite Valley.


YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE
YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE
YELLOW-BILLED MAGPIE (Pica nuttalli): 16-18 in. Head, throat, breast, back, and rump black; large bar of white on shoulder; belly white; large white patches toward tips of outspread wings; bill yellow; long central tail feathers. Omnivorous. Builds a bulky nest of sticks and mud.

Frequents broad expanses of open ground where there is a scattering of oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, or other trees. Found in the Lower and Upper Sonoran life zones, usually near water. R. in the Great Valley and western foothills of the Sierra as in the western part of the Yosemite region. Rarely observed in Yosemite Valley.


CLARK'S NUTCRACKER
CLARK’S NUTCRACKER
CLARK’S NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga columbiana): 12-13 in. Body light gray; black wings with white-tipped secondary feathers forming conspicuous white patch at rear edge of wing; most outer tail feathers white, central tail feathers black. Harsh call. Omnivorous but feeds to a large extent on pine nuts.

R. chiefly in the Canadian and Hudsonian life zones in areas usually characterized by meadows, rocky slopes, and trees of relatively small stature. Frequents most of the higher mountain masses, generally from 8,000 feet up to timberline. In the Yosemite region common in the Hudsonian zone but may be seen at lower elevations as at Glacier Point and at other localities on the rim of Yosemite Valley, especially in late summer and fall.

BLACK - BILLED MAGPIE (Pica pica): 17-22 in. Bill black, otherwise resembles yellow-billed magpie, but is slightly larger.

Frequents chiefly open terrain with clumps of willows, aspens, cottonwoods, or other trees with nesting sites and shelter. Water in the form of a stream, wet meadow, or lake is often not far removed. Breeds in the Upper Sonoran and Transition life zones. R. east of the Cascade-Sierran divides south to the upper part of the Owens Valley. Occasionally enters the eastern part of the Yosemite region. Has been seen in Lyell Canyon.

COMMON CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos): 17-21 in. Whole bird glossy black; tip of tail rounded when spread. Often seen in flocks. Call, familiar caw, caw. Omnivorous.

Frequents areas with a broad expanse of open ground, in valleys and in rolling hills, but trees are requisite for nesting and roosting. Breeds in the Lower Sonoran to the Transition life zones. R. throughout the Great Valley. Absent or C. V. in heavily forested or mountainous country and in the deserts. Occasional at lower elevations in the western part of the Yosemite region. C. V. to Yosemite Valley.



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