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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Gray-breasted Jay -- Aphelocoma ultramarina
(formerly Mexican Jay)

RANGE: Resident from central Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and western Texas south to Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits canyons and hillsides of oak and pine-oak woodlands, adjacent riparian forests, and occasionally ventures into adjacent pure pine woodlands or more open scrub, from 2,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Live oaks within its home range.

NEST: Builds nest in a fork, crotch, or on a horizontal branch of oaks or pines, typically 10 to 25 feet, but ranging from 6 to 54 feet above the ground. May nest singly or in loose colonies, and participates in communal nest building.

FOOD: Usually forages on the ground and in trees for acorns, insects, lizards, eggs and young birds, fruits, and seeds.

REFERENCES: Goodwin 1976, Gross 1949, Terres 1980, Wilmore 1977.

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