Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay!

How craft brewers are helping put the Pinyon Jay on the map (literally)

The Pinyon-Juniper forests of northern Arizona and New Mexico wouldn’t be the same without the Pinyon Jay. Flocks of these sky blue birds stay together year round, searching far and wide for their favorite food – Pinyon Pine nuts. They gobble some of these seeds down as soon as their found, but they hide even more in caches that can contain tens of thousands of seeds. The jays return to find most of these seeds, but they leave just enough to ensure another generation of Pinyon Pine. The jays may be experts at finding their seed caches, but biologists have a harder time finding the jays. Their nomadic lifestyle can make them hard to pin down, and the cacophony of laugh-like “kaws” that emanate from their flocks mock those who try.

Sadly, Pinyon-Juniper woodlands are suffering as the Southwest becomes increasingly hot and arid. The seed crops they produce are decreasing in quality and quantity, and an increased risk of wildfire threatens the healthy forests that remain. Alongside these changes, the Pinyon Jay is struggling to hold on. Making things even more complicated, the species’ complex natural history means that there are many gaps in knowledge and that getting a snapshot of the bird’s status over a large geographic range is extremely difficult. To get the data we need to inform Pinyon Jay conservation efforts, we need a huge community of people to head outside, observe their local Pinyon Jay flocks, and share their data. These community scientists don’t have to be expert birders, but how do we reach them?

In comes the craft brewing community to the rescue.

On July 8th, Flagstaff’s one and only mead hall, Drinking Horn Meadery, will be releasing a specialty mead dubbed “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay”, and on July 16th, New Mexico’s Bosque Brewing Company will be releasing a collaborative beer by the same name. To celebrate the Pinyon-Juniper woodlands, they are brewing with juniper berries, prickly pear, and local honey and to support Pinyon Jay conservation, labels on both brews will sport an image of the Pinyon Jay and its habitat, a call to action, and a sign up link where folks can go to join our growing team of community scientists.

But, why are craft brewers getting involved? The Pinyon Jay is an iconic bird of the intermountain west, but what does it have to do with beer and mead? Two things: water and climate. Dependent on thriving agriculture and reliable water, the future of your favorite brew, just like Pinyon-Juniper woodlands and the Pinyon Jay, depends on our taking action now. By taking action as a community, we can secure a future for the Southwest where both the Pinyon Jay and the craft brewing community thrive.

To bring the opportunity to take action for the Pinyon Jay to as many people as possible, we’ll be holding events in both Flagstaff and Santa Fe. Use the links below to learn more and sign up – we hope you’ll join us in raising a glass for this deserving bird!

  • Arizona Events

    July 7, 2022, 5:30-6:30pm - Pinyon Jay Presentation and Mead Tasting, Drinking Horn Meadery, Flagstaff, AZ:
    Swing by the mead hall for a preview tasting of "Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay" and enjoy a presentation all about Pinyon Jay natural history and conservation efforts, presented by Northern Arizona Audubon's Anne Pellegrini, the Grand Canyon Trust's Audrey Kruse, and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management's Russell Benford. After the presentation, stick around for live music and to connect with the Pinyon Jay community. Learn more and register here.

    July 8, 2022, 6-9pm – “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay” Limited Edition Mead Release, Drinking Horn Meadery, Flagstaff, AZ: Join Audubon Southwest, Northern Arizona Audubon, and the Grand Canyon Trust for the release of Drinking Horn Meadery’s limited edition “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay”. Flavored with, prickly pear, local honey, and juniper berries, bottles of this specialty mead will sport an image of the jay and a link to sign up for the growing Pinyon Jay community science program. Learn more and register here.

    July 9, 2022, 8-10am – Pinyon Jay Bird Walk, Flagstaff, AZ: After tasting Drinking Horn Meadery’s “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay!”, we know you’re going to want to get out into Flagstaff’s Pinyon-Juniper woodlands to search for the mead’s namesake bird!  Lucky for you, the Northern Arizona Audubon Society and the Grand Canyon Trust have you covered. The morning after the release event at Drinking Horn Meadery, join us for an introduction to Pinyon-Juniper woodlands and the birds and other wildlife that call them home. Learn more and register here.
  • New Mexico Events

    July 16th, 2022, 5-7:30pm – “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay” Limited Edition Beer Release and Trivia Night, Bosque Brewing Company, Bernalillo, NM:
    Join Audubon Southwest and Sangre de Cristo Audubon for the release of Bosque Brewing Company’s limited edition brew, “Oh Hey, Pinyon Jay”. Flavored with juniper berries, prickly pear, and local honey, cans of this specialty brew will sport an image of the jay and a link to sign up for the growing Pinyon Jay community science program. Making the night even more exciting, attendees are invited to participate in a rousing game of Pinyon Jay trivia! Learn more and register here.

How you can help, right now