This species occours in western North America from central Oregon to northern Baja California and east as far as western Oklahoma though it wanders further afield out of the breeding season. It tends to live in foothills where the Piņon pine (Pinus edulis) occurs.
When foraging for food, this species often forms very large flocks of up to 250 birds and several birds always seem to keep sentry watching out for predators while their companions are feeding. The seed of the Piņon pine is the staple food but of course, they suppliment their diet with fruits and berries, insects of many types are eaten and sometimes caught with it's feet.
The nest is always part of a colony but never more than one nest in a tree. Sometimes the colony can cover quite extensive areas with a single nest in each tree (usually juniper, Live Oak or pine. There are usually 3-4 eggs laid, quite early in the season. Incubation is usually 16 days. The male bird normally brings food near to the nest and the female flies to him to receive it and take back to the nest to feed the chicks that fledge around 3 weeks later. The pair normally only feed their own young but once they reach near fledging size, they can sometimes receive a meal from any passing member of the colony which can continue for some time after leaving the nest.
The voice is describes as a rhythmic krawk-kraw-krawk repeated two or three times.