Apparently monogamous with long lasting pair bonds. Pairs form in winter months. Courtship displays can be seen throughout the year but are most intense in the breeding season. Courtship behavior includes rapid flights where one bird follows its mate at high speed, both performing various swoops and dives. Begging calls, feeding and other vocalizations have been observed as part of courtship. Territories are only established for nesting purposes and a pair may hold the same nesting territory for several years.
Both members of the pair contribute to nest construction. Timing of nesting vary seasonally based on elevation, weather, and food availability. Nest location is often near food stores and may not be well concealed. Nests, which average 11 inches in diameter, are placed on the more sheltered side of nesting tree, often on a south-facing slope. Height of nest varies from seven to 70 feet above ground depending on the nesting tree. Placed on one or more branches, the nest platform construction materials include small twigs woven together. The nest bowl is well insulated with the outer part built of rotten wood pulp and the inner bowl lined with fine material.
Brood size averages three eggs, which are laid usually two days after nest construction is completed. The altricial young with sparse down hatch almost synchronously after an 18 day incubation. Growth is rapid and fledging occurs approximately 20-22 days after hatching. The family group forages together for the remainder of the summer but the young are completely independent by the end of summer (Tomback, 1998).
Unusual for corvids, both males and females incubate. Male has well developed incubation/brood patches, which allows him to tend the nest while female retrieves seeds from her caches. Both also care for the young after they hatch.