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Canada Jays Are Bold Residents of the Mountains

These crafty birds have a special way of storing food for the cold winters

Formerly known as the Gray Jay — and nicknamed the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack — the mountain-dwelling Canada Jay seems to crash your picnic even faster than hungry ants. The fluffy, long-tailed jay will escape with any edible bits it can get, which it will store for the long mountain winter by sticking those bits to the side of a tree using its super sticky saliva.

Full Transcript



Canada Jay, Picnic Bird

Written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote.

[Call of the Canada Jay]

Imagine you’re visiting the mountains on a sunny summer day. You spread out sandwiches and chips on a picnic table and turn to grab a cold drink from the cooler, when suddenly in swoops an uninvited guest! A Canada Jay.

[Call of the Canada Jay]

Also known as the Gray Jay, the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack, the mountain-dwelling Canada Jay is well known in the high country. It’s fluffy, long-tailed, and sooty-gray with a white collar and forehead. And it is bold! First it hops around in a nearby tree, checking out you — and your lunch. Then with soft, soundless flight, the jay drops right into the middle of your camp!

The robber will escape with any edible bits it can get. But instead of eating the spoils at the scene of the crime, the bird will attach them to the side of a tree using its super sticky saliva. Then, in the depths of winter, the Canada Jay still has something to eat.

As for the nickname Whiskey Jack? It probably comes from a Native American name for this species, wiss-ka-tjon.

[More Canada Jay sounds]

Learn more about all kinds of birds on our website And unlike the Canada Jay, you’re always invited. I’m Michael Stein.


Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Editor: Ashley Ahearn

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill

Narrator: Michael Stein

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by C.A. Marantz and G. F. Budney.

BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

© 2019 Tune In to   July 2017 / 2019   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#072905GRJAKPLU         GRAJ-01c

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