Sunday, January 23, 2011

STELLER'S JAY BIRDS


The Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a jay native to western North America, closely related to the Blue Jay found in the rest of the continent, but with a black head and upper body. It is also known as the Long-crested Jay, Mountain Jay, and Pine Jay. It is the only crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains.

The Steller's Jay shows a great deal of regional variation throughout its range. Blackish-brown-headed birds from the north gradually become bluer-headed farther south. The Steller's Jay has a more slender bill and longer legs than the Blue Jay and has a much more pronounced crest. The head is blackish-brown with light blue streaks on the forehead. This dark coloring gives way from the shoulders and lower breast to silvery blue. The primaries and tail are a rich blue with darker barring.

It occurs over virtually the whole of the western side of North America from Alaska in the north to Central America in the far south and east to south-western Texas, completely replacing the Blue Jay in most of those areas. Some hybridization with the Blue Jay in Colorado has been reported. The Steller's Jay lives in coniferous and mixed woodland, but not in completely dense forest, and requires open space. It typically lives in flocks of greater than 10 individuals. In autumn, flocks often visit oak woods when acorns are ripe.

Habitat
The Steller's Jay primarily lives in coniferous forests but can be found in many forested areas. They can be found in low to moderate elevations as high as the tree line, but rarely go that high. Steller's Jays are common in residential and agricultural areas with nearby forests. The range is primarily west of the Rocky Mountains, reaching as far south as Central America and as far north as Alaska.

Birders have reported recent sightings of the Steller's Jay in San Antonio, Texas. This bird is rare in Texas, particularly outside of migration and breeding seasons.

Diet
As they are omnivores, their diet is about two-thirds plant matter and one third animal matter. Food is gathered from both the ground and from trees. The Steller's Jay's diet consists of a wide range of seeds, nuts, berries and other fruit. Many types of invertebrates, eggs, small rodents, and nestlings are also eaten. There are some accounts of them eating small reptiles, both snakes and lizards. Acorns and conifer seeds are staples during the non-breeding season; these are often cached in the ground or in trees for later consumption. They exploit human-provided food sources, frequently scavenging picnics and camp sites.

PHOTO GALLERY







3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the info! Just spotted a pair of these in my front yard, and my kids and I wanted to know what they were!

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  3. I wondered if they cached food. The rascals empty my bird feeder every day. I'm tempted to shoot them - Lucky for them God made them pretty or they would be doomed

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