During our trip through various national parks, we came across a lot of wildlife. We love birds (we see so many in our backyard) and our favorite has to be the Steller’s Jay. Their colors are so powerful, and they make really funny and weird sounds.
The only western North American jay with a crest decorating its head, the Steller’s Jay is the darkest jay in North America. It turns up in the western U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Most notably, it turns up in the Rocky Mountains, one of our favorite national parks and one we visited on our trip.
The Steller’s Jay generally has a black or dark blue head with bright to silvery blue wings, tail, and stomach. It has a shaggy crest, sort of like a mohawk. It may have light blue streaking on the forehead. They are small to medium sized birds, with a size of about 11 inches and a wingspan of 17 inches. They are amazing, brightly colored birds.
They are sociable birds that can mimic various calls and sounds made by red-tailed hawks, chickens, squirrels (what? Why squirrels?), and cats amongst many other things. The Steller’s Jay’s song is a weird buzzy chirping. The birdcall is a scolding chip-chip-chip-chip-chip. However, their most common call may keep some people in their area awake. It’s actually really annoying. It made a warbling, chirping sound when we saw it.
Within their range, they like living in coniferous forests, pure ones especially, with some clear space. However, they will live in neighborhoods with a forest nearby, maybe yours.
They make nests made of twigs, mud and moss. Their newly hatched chicks are pink with a faint navy blue fuzz. You can tell fledglings from hatchlings by seeing wether or not there are wing feathers- the tail feathers don’t mean much.
Our sighting: We saw one perched on an aspen or birch stump on the Mills Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. It looked at us with wide shiny eyes, and cocked it’s head like What? Who are you and what are you doing here? This is my tree. Go get your own. In our excitement, the photos were a bit blurry but clear enough to share.
P.S.: If you live in the range of the Steller’s Jay, you can attract some to your backyard by putting out peanuts, suet, fruits, or black oil sunflower seeds. If you out a couple feeders far apart, the medium sized families can all eat, and also, they love nesting in pine trees. And about pictures: good luck getting these guys to hold still. These blurry shots were the best we could get!
Citation: About- Birding
Rocky Mountain National Park