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 Gray Jay

Status in Michigan

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Gray Jay.

Use the links below to view the Gray Jay reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Gray Jay sightings.
Gray Jay Archives Reports
Fall 2003 4
Spring 2003 14
Winter 02-03 64
Fall 2002 14
Summer 2002 0
Spring 2002 10
Winter 01-02 34
Fall 2001 23
Summer 2001 1
Spring 2001 6
Winter 00-01 73
Fall 2000 3
Summer 2000 9
Spring 2000 9
Winter 00-99 17
Fall 1999 6
Spring/Summer 1999 2

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Gray Jay

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Gray Jay
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Gray Jay
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Perisoreus canadensis canadensis (Linnaeus)
Canada Jay (A.O.U. 1998: Gray Jay)

Local resident on Isle Royale and in the Upper Peninsula; formerly south to Houghton Lake, Roscommon County. Winter visitant south to Oscoda County.

First listed for Michigan by Kneeland (1857: 235).

Nehrling (1896: 327-28) stated that in northern Michigan and Wisconsin, Canada Jays were "exceedingly numerous during winter near the lumbermen's camps," and that in the region of Lake Gogebic, Gogebic County, they had been found nesting as early as March 20, though most commonly in April. He supplied, however, no specific data. Full-winged young (U.M.M.Z.) still being fed by their parents have been found in various parts of the Upper Peninsula, as well as adult birds that were gathering moss, presumably for nest-building, for example, at McMillan, Luce County, on March 12, 2023 (Bryens, 1928o: 106-7). On Isle Royale, where this species is regular and more or less common the year round (N. A. Wood, 1905: 177; N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906: 124; McCreary, 1909:84-87, 91,95; Max M. Peet, 1909o; 117; 1909: 360-61), a nest (with young al-most ready to leave) was finally discovered by Ben East (1936: 50-51) about April 30,1935. In May, 1930, N. A. Wood noted 2 groups of Canada Jays on the island, each group containing several well-grown juveniles (specimens in U.M.M.Z.).

Upper Peninsula.-This jay has been recorded at every season, but chiefly in the colder part of the year, in nearly every county in the Upper Peninsula. Kneeland (1857: 235) found the species common at Portage Lake, Keweenaw County, in the winter of 1856-57; in the Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon County, Max M. Peet (N. A. Wood, 1905: 177) recorded an individual on August 7,1904. Southwest of Watersmeet, Gogebic County (but in Wisconsin near the state boundary), H. H. T. Jackson (1923: 484) took several specimens from small groups of adults and immatures in June. In the Huron Mountains, Marquette County (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 180; Tappan Gregory, 1933: 6; other data), the few records have been mainly late summer, fall, and winter ones, but on June 24, 1936, a family of 5 jays was noted there by Van Tyne and an adult and 1 full-winged juvenile (U.M.M.Z.) were collected. Van Winkle (1892:186) termed the species "an occasional visitor" in Delta County, where he collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) on April 23, 1892. At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens (1928; 51; 1928o:106-7; and notes) observed several Canada Jays frequently in the fall and winter of 1927-28 and 1929-30; northward in the valleys of Dawson Creek and the Two-hearted River, Luce County, J. C. Salyer saw 3 or 4 birds each day, October 9, 10, and 11, 1933. At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, and at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, Christofferson has found Canada Jays occasionally in all seasons. In Chippewa County, at Whitefish Point, this species has been recorded from May to midsummer (N. A. Wood, 1914: 66); a flock of about 30 birds, from which 5 (U.M.M.Z.) were collected, was found there by Tyrrell (1931: 131) from June 2 to 12, 1930. Specimens were also taken in the county in Pickford Township in September, 1919 (N. A. Wood, 1923: 338-39), and on the north shore of Drummond Island on November 20, 2023 (by Max M. Peet). R. H. Manville stated that on a single day in mid-February, 1941, as he was traveling by automobile from Huron Mountain, Marquette County, to St. Ignace, Mackinac County, he observed a total of 12 Canada Jays (1 to 3 birds at a time) along the road.

Lower Peninsula.-On the Sturgeon River, Cheboygan County, Gunn (1881: 120) noted a flock of 8 to 10 Canada Jays, from which he collected 1 bird-of-the-year on August 10, 1880. Barrows (1912: 415-16) said that the species had been "recorded repeatedly" south to Missaukee County, where (25 miles east of Cadillac) B. F. Sykes collected a specimen (U.M.M.Z.) in the summer of 1884. Eddy (1884: 41) found it usually "abundant about the logging camps" near the "south branch of the Pine [Arenac or Alcona County?] and Rifle rivers" in November. More recent records refer to single birds: 1 seen near Grayling, Crawford County, on February 7, 1935, by Trautman; 1 (Max M. Peet collection) taken at Luzerne, Oscoda County, on July 11, 1914; 1 seen near Mio, Oscoda County, March 30, 1941, by Verne Dockham. In Peet's collection there is a pair taken a mile and a half northwest of Luzerne, Oscoda County, on August 16, 1915.

Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

Additional Resources

1. Gray Jay by: Rick Baetsen

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