Pinyon Jay Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus

Kristine Johnson and Russell P. Balda
Version: 2.0 — Published March 19, 2020


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The Organized Research Committee of Northern Arizona University supported R. P. Balda’s research on Pinyon Jays for many years. National Science Foundation grants, BNS-9008803 and DEB-9421807 were critical for aspects of this study. Support also came from the Wilson Ornithological Society, Sigma Xi, A.R.C.S. Foundation, Bilby Research Center, and the Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund. The Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, under the leadership of Dr. James R. Wick, provided much support during the initial stages of this project. Students in ecology and ornithology classes taught by RPB made huge contributions; their help is greatly appreciated. A host of colleagues, students, and volunteers aided in the collection of data and provided lively discussions about Pinyon Jay biology. J. David Ligon was a constant source of ideas, information, suggestions, and help with manuscripts. His contributions to this project were immense. Collaborations with A. Kamil have been gratifying, enlightening, and exciting. Joint studies with W. and R. Wiltschko have been enjoyable and expansive. Unpublished breeding-bird atlas data for Arizona was provided by C. Wise, Arizona Game and Fish Department. Lloyd Kiff is thanked for arranging for egg and nest data from the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. J. Balda, P. Bateman, K. Bartlett, W. and J. Burding, G. Foster, C. Marzluff, A. Matter, and E. Morrall helped in ways too numerous to list. L. Pyc, M. Munoz, M. Horn, J. Luginbuhl, T. Huels, S. Vander Wall, M. Morrison, and S. Winterstein spent many hours searching for birds and nests. The studies of J. Marzluff, D. Cannon, D. Gabaldon, P. McArthur, N. Stotz, L. Clark, M. Blair, W. Romonchuk, P. Bednekoff, A. Hile, B. Pavlick, B. Chen, J. Basil, D. Olson, J. Templeton, and J. Shulzitski, A. Dunlap, and B. Marshall contributed greatly to our understanding of this complex bird. For the revised account (2020), Peter Pyle contributed plumage and molt descriptions in the Appearance article and David Mindell contributed text for the Systematics article. All are heartily thanked.

Kristine Johnson’s research on habitat use and conservation of Pinyon Jays has been supported by White Sands Missile Range (Trish Cutler), Kirtland Air Force Base (Carol Finley), the DoD Legacy Resource Management Program, New Mexico BLM State Office (Marikay Ramsey), Taos New Mexico BLM Office (Valerie Williams), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and Santa Fe County, New Mexico (Peggy Darr). These biologists recognized early the plight of Pinyon Jays and their habitats and found funds to support our research. Suzanne Field of General Dynamics alerted us to the presence of Pinyon Jay flocks and collected observation data on banded birds at Kirtland Air Force Base. Thanks to “Piñon Penny” Frazier for constantly supplying high-quality P. edulis seed and for her unflagging commitment to piñon pine woodlands and their birds. Particular thanks go to Jacqueline Smith, for years of crucial field work, GIS analysis, and database support; Nate Petersen, also for years of excellent field work; and Giancarlo Sadoti, for statistical modeling and ongoing collaboration on technical reports and publications. Additional field work was conducted by students and technicians: Matthew Baumann, Cole Wolf, Jason Kitting, and Eric Smith. Finally, J. David Ligon served as K. Johnson’s dissertation advisor, introduced her to this wonderful bird and its fascinating mutualism with piñon pines, and has provided many stimulating discussions of Pinyon Jays spanning more than 30 years.

Recommended Citation

Johnson, K. and R. P. Balda (2020). Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.pinjay.02