Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Steller’s jay.
Bold, intelligent, inquisitive and noisy are some of the adjectives used to describe this bird. Steller’s jays are common in western coniferous forests and often are seen ascending a tall ponderosa by hopping from branch to branch on long, strong legs. The black, crested head which transitions into a bright blue body makes this year-round resident unmistakable. A closer look reveals fine black barring on the blue tail and wings. White streaks above and below the eyes and down the forehead can give this bird a fierce look.
An omnivore, this jay will eat seeds, insects, berries, nuts, unattended picnic food and even eggs and nestlings of other species. Peanuts are a real treat. In fall, they will quickly empty sunflower feeders, carrying off the seeds to store for winter. The extraordinary memory which allows these and other birds to locate this stored food in winter gives the term “bird brained” a whole new meaning.
The Steller’s jay is an expert mimic and can imitate dogs, cats, squirrels, birds and even machines. Look up the next time you hear the scream of a hawk and you might be surprised to find that a Steller’s jay just played a trick on you.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on December 23, 2018.