October 30, 2015 – Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)

Found in the western United States, these jays are known for their habit of storing pine seeds. Though they are omnivorous and eat a variety of invertebrates, small vertebrates, seeds, and berries, pine seeds make up an important part of their diet. Their beaks are featherless at the base, an adaptation which allows them to extract seeds from pitch-filled pinecones without soiling their feathers. Caching these seeds for the winter, they are able to remember the locations of and retrieve most of them. They are classified as Vulnerable due to destruction of their pinyon-juniper habitat. Conversion of these areas to pasture land for cattle, as well as fire-suppression, drought, and global warming have been the major causes of these declines.