The Camp Robber Bird – The Fascinating Bird That’s Ready to Steal Your Food

Have you ever encountered a feathered thief?

Camp Robber Birds are notorious for their food-snatching antics, making them a fascinating subject to explore.

Dive into the world of these cheeky avians as we uncover their unique adaptations, communication skills, and ecological role, all while providing a few laughs along the way.

What is Camp Robber Bird?

The Camp Robber Bird (Perisoreus canadensis) will keep your summer and winter vacation in Summit County extremely enjoyable.

Belonging to the Corvidae family, this gray-colored bird bear resemblances with the Clark’s Nutcracker, ravens, and crows.

There are nine species of the Camp Robber Bird in North America, and they are monogamous. The bird is commonly referred to as the Gray Jay, Whiskey Jay, or Canada Jay.

This bird has a large, round head and a small bill it uses for feeding on plants and small animals.

The bird species do not appear very friendly: they gladly pick any food you offer them but immediately fly away to store them for the winter. They are named for their infamous habit of stealing food from campers.

The Gray Jay has a large head, and a small bill it uses to feed on plants and small animals.

It has a dark-grey body, with the underpants having a lighter shade of grey. Its head is a mix of grey and white.

One unique feature of the bird species is the rivalry that exists amongst siblings. After being hatched, the nestlings make a home in the nest as one big family.

After about three of them leaves, the rivalry is set in motion just in about a month. The nestlings wrestle with one another until the strongest can drive the rest out. This behavior is akin to the theory of “survival of the fittest.”

Characteristics of the Camp Robber Bird

Scientific nameGymnorhinus cyanocephalus
Common nameCamp Robber
Size11-12 inches in length
Weight2.4-3.4 ounces
Wingspan18-20 inches
ColorationGray-brown body with a black head and neck, white forehead and throat, and blue-gray wings and tail
HabitatFound in mountainous and desert regions of western North America
DietOmnivorous, feeding on insects, fruit, seeds, small mammals, and carrion
BehaviorKnown for stealing food from campsites and picnic areas
Conservation statusNot currently listed as a threatened or endangered species


Ever wondered where to spot a cheeky Camp Robber Bird?

These rascals love to hang out in coniferous forests across North America, especially in eastern Canada and the northwestern region.

So, keep your eyes peeled for these feathered bandits on your next woodland adventure!


The Camp Robber Bird is omnivorous, feeding on berries, rodents, nuts, insects, seeds, and spiders.

The bird species is a scavenger and is notorious for stealing food from campers and tourists.

Feeding Behavior

Grey Jay exhibits several feeding behaviors. Generally, it flies from one tree to another, looking for food.

It is also known for its notoriety in stealing food from cabins and camps, and it got its name from this behavior.

The bird species prey on small rodents and birds, and also forages on insects.

The Camp Robber Bird is a scavenger, feeding on the flesh of dead animals, especially in the winter.

To survive the cold winter, it stores food on the crevices in tree barks with its sticky saliva. This way, the Camp Robber Bird never runs out of food and can survive throughout the year.

The Canada Jay can fly with food – even sizable ones – in his bill. This aids its habit of stealing food and flying away to store it for the cold day.

See Also: Here’s Where To Hang Your Hummingbird Feeder (And How!)


The Camp Robber Bird is monogamous, with a mating pair staying together their whole lives. The bird species exhibit territoriality behavior, sternly defending its nesting area.

The male Robber Bird provides food for the female during courtship. The female lays around 3 – 5 brown or reddish eggs, and the male provides food in the early period.

After a period of brooding by the female, it joins the male in the fetching of food.

The bird nests just once a year, and it usually does so around March and April, when the snow still covers its breeding area.

Both the male and female bird species are involved in the building of the nest. They build their nest about 15 inches above ground level, on the branch base of a fir. 

The nest, typically, is made of different materials, including tree bark strips, twigs, the web of caterpillars, and lichens. To ensure comfort, the Camp Robber Birds line the interior of the nest with bird feathers and animal hair.

Adaptations: Surviving in a Challenging Environment

Camp robber birds have developed a range of physical and behavioral adaptations that enable them to survive in their native habitats.

For instance, their gray and white plumage helps them blend in with the surrounding trees, providing camouflage from predators. Additionally, their strong feet and sharp claws allow them to grip branches and perch with ease, even in windy conditions.

These birds also have an uncanny ability to remember the locations of their food caches, which they create by hiding food in tree crevices and under bark.

This skill enables them to locate and retrieve their stored food during the harsh winter months when food is scarce. Furthermore, their habit of stealing food from campers and other animals not only gives them their name but also provides an additional food source.

Vocalizations and Communication: The Language of the Camp Robber Bird

Camp robber birds are known for their complex vocalizations and communication techniques.

They produce a variety of sounds, ranging from soft whistles to harsh calls, to communicate with other members of their species. These vocalizations serve multiple purposes, such as alerting other birds to the presence of predators or signaling the discovery of a new food source.

One interesting aspect of their communication is the use of “mobbing calls.”

When a potential threat is detected, such as a predator or an intruder, camp robber birds will emit these calls to rally other birds in the area to join together and harass the threat. This behavior is an effective way of deterring predators and protecting their nests.

Role in the Ecosystem: Contributing to a Healthy Environment

Camp robber birds play a vital role in maintaining the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. As omnivores, they consume a diverse diet that includes seeds, berries, insects, and small animals. By consuming seeds and berries, they aid in seed dispersal, which contributes to the growth and regeneration of plant life in their habitats.

Additionally, their predation on insects and small rodents helps control pest populations. By reducing the number of pests in their environment, they indirectly contribute to the health and well-being of other species that share their habitat, including humans.

Conservation Status: Facing an Uncertain Future

The conservation status of camp robber birds is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating that the species is not facing any immediate threats.

However, this does not mean that they are entirely safe from harm.

Habitat loss is a growing concern for many bird species, and camp robber birds are no exception.

The destruction of their forest habitats due to logging, agriculture, and urbanization can lead to a decline in their numbers.

Additionally, climate change poses a significant threat to their survival, as rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns can alter the availability of food and nesting sites.

Importance of the Camp Robber Bird

The Camp Robber Bird is a remarkable bird for sightseeing along the coast of North America.

Its obsessive trait of stealing and storing food sets it apart from other bird species among its closest relatives of crows and ravens.

The bird species is so important and unique to the North American continent that the Candian Geographic named it the country’s national bird in 2016.

Camp Robber Bird FAQ

Camp Robber Bird FAQ

What is a camp robber bird?

A camp robber bird is a bird species that is known for stealing food and other items from campsites and picnics. These birds are highly opportunistic and will take advantage of any easy food sources they can find.

What is another name for camp robber?

Another name for camp robber is gray jay.

What bird is a camp robber in Colorado?

The bird that is a camp robber in Colorado is the gray jay.

What kind of bird is a whiskey jack?

A whiskey jack is another name for a gray jay, which is a medium-sized bird species in the crow family.

What is the name of the bird that steals?

The bird that is known for stealing food and other items is the camp robber or gray jay.

What birds are mobs?

Some bird species, such as crows and magpies, are known for forming mobs and attacking potential threats or predators in their territory.

What birds look like a bandit?

The gray jay is sometimes referred to as a “camp robber” or “thief bird” because of its gray and white plumage, which can give it a bandit-like appearance.

What is a nomad bird?

A nomad bird is a bird species that does not have a permanent nesting site and instead travels extensively to find food and breeding opportunities. Some examples of nomad birds include the wandering albatross and the Arctic tern.

What kind of bird is a Camp Robber?

The Camp Robber Bird is an omnivorous bird belonging to the Corvidae family and is commonly known for stealing food from camps – earning the name Camp Robber.

While it flies from tree to tree looking for food, it’s mostly a scavenger, feeding on the carcass of dead animals.

Is the Gray Jay Canada’s national bird?

In 2016, the Gray Jay was named Canada’s National Bird by the Canadian Geographic on the hills of votes by thousands of Canadians.

However, its status as the country’s national bird was not officially sanctioned by the government of Canada.

The Canadain Geographic does hope that the bird would be accepted in the future.

See Also: A Guide To the State Bird Of California – The California Quail

Where does the Gray Jay live?

The Camp Robber bird is found in different conifers and forests in North America. It is very common to find Grey Jays in eastern Canada, and coniferous forests in the northwestern region.

The bird spends most of its time flying and gathering food that it stores away. It nests once a year on the base of low tree branches.

How do you attract Gray Jays?

A Gray Jay is willing to perch very close to you just to grab the piece of bread you’re holding.

One sure way to attract the bird is holding out some food.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.