Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday Bird of the Week: August 15, 2018

A very Friendly Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) at Yosemite National Park.
The Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a common find in the forests of the mountainous western states and my favorite jay species. This week it is also the bird of the week.

I have observed Steller's Jays in California, New Mexico and Colorado and they get more and more beautiful every time I see them. They are not afraid to approach humans, as they seem to congregate near campgrounds and picnic areas. The Steller's Jays of Yosemite will even steal your snack out of your hand if they can.

One identifying feature of the Steller's Jay is the crest on it's head which is a shared trait only with the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) among North American Jay species. It sports dark blue plumage on its body with a mostly black head and little blue "eyebrows."

The Steller's Jay is of low conservation concern. With the expanding range of the Blue Jay, there are even hybrids between the two species.

They nest in trees and forage the ground for food whenever they aren't begging for it from hikers. If they are found in your area, you can attract them to your backyard by using peanuts or other large nuts.

Much like it's cousin the Blue Jay, Steller's Jays are great mimics. Being able to mimic other birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens and even some machines. This can make it tricky to identify them by sound, but if you are hearing something that sounds just a bit off make sure to look around for this beautiful Jay species.

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