Perisoreus canadensis is a permanent resident of coniferous forests and considered one of the boldest birds in Oregon. P. canadensis is very inquisitive, gregarious and individualistic, willing to appear when there is the sound of people near. The plumage of P. canadensis is fluffy and light gray incolor. The upper plumage is dark brown and and paler in color lower. A distinctive dark ‘hood’ is apparent, contrasting with the pale forehead and white cheeks. The bill is short and black, the tail long, rounded and white tipped. The juvenile P. canadensis has a more uniform gray-brown plumage and a gray bill. The adults can reach to
inches long with a wingspan of 18 inches weighing approximately 2.5 ounces.
The flight pattern of P. canadensis has a distinctive bounce, with fast flaps and short glides near the ground.
Members of P. canadensis live in small family groups within the coniferous forests and the coastal mountains, sometimes occuring at sea level in spruce habitat. The nests built for incubating eggs are built of sticks, fastened with spider silk or insect cocoons and well insulated with the first plants of spring in late February and placed on a horizontal conifer branch hear the trunk. The female incubates 3 to 4 spotted gray and white eggs for 16 to 18 days. At 15 days old, the young fledge. Insects, fruit and carrion are the typical diet of P. canadensis, though will eat foliage as well. In campsites, P. canadensis has earned on of the common names, camp robber, as they gladly accept food from campers.P. canadensis stores food through the winter by covering it with a sticky mucus from salivary glands that preserve the food as well as make it unpalatable to other animals.
P. canadensis is a member of the Corvidae family. Clinal variation has resulted in three separate populations (Rocky Mountains, Pacific and Taiga), though all are connected by intermediate populations. The Rocky Mountain population has limited black on the head. The Pacific population is darker in overall color, with a whitish belly, dark head and no white on the tail or secondaries. The backs of the Pacific population are tinged with brown. The Taiga population is more similar to the Pacific population but without the brown tinging on the plumage.
Burrows, R. and J. Gilligan (2003) Birds of Oregon. Lone Pine Publishing. Washington, Alberta.
Cogger, H.G., E. Gould, J. Forshaw, G. McKay and R.G. Zweifel (1993) The Encyclopedia of Animals. Fog City Press, San Francisco, California.
Sibley, D.A. (2000) National Audubon Society: The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.