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A Steller’s jay is something to crow about

July 22, 2014

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Everyday in the Fairview neighbourhood I see several kinds of birds: crows, seagulls, pigeons and chickadees to name the most common but I have never seen a Steller’s jay, until today.

That’s kind of a shame. From the tips of it’s electric blue wings to the top of it’s charcoal crested head the Steller’s jay is an eye-catching bird. It’s also British Columbia’s provincial bird.

Our official bird isn’t a raven lunatic?

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The Steller’s jay is as common in most parts of British Columbia as it’s uncommon in Fairview. It doesn’t even normally migrate south in the winter time — there’s always somewhere to go in B.C. to get away from the snow and the cold.

The Steller’s jay I saw today may be a new resident of Fairview — a dumpster diver tells me a family of the brightly coloured jays has lately taken up residence in the vicinity of 15th Avenue and Fir Street, which is only about five blocks southwest of where I saw my bird.

 And no, I didn’t just spraypaint a crow!

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I’m a little disappointed to learn that Steller’s jays are members of the crow family or corvids.

All corvids, whether crows, jays, magpies or whatever, are annoying for the simple fact that they are all birds on the make and for the other fact that on their best day they can outsmart people.

I was hoping Steller’s jays at least had songs to match their plumage but, as corvids, not one of them can sing worth a damn. All they can do is crow.

The typical call of a Male Steller’s jay is described as a high-pitched “gleep”, while the female is said to go in for more of a “rattling call”.

Living up to the corvid reputation for trickery, they are also known for their ability to mimic a wide range of sounds — copying other birds, animals and also “non-animals”.

Not exactly the bluebirds of happiness, still…

So Steller’s jays definitely don’t sing for their supper. Like all corvids, they’re more likely to nick it or acquire it through craft and cunning.

The only thing that really seems to distinguish them from crows is the natural equivalent of some blue spraypaint and a dab of hair gel.

But I’d still rather look at a blue and black Steller’s jay than a dull old crow.

But that spraypaint and hair gel line just gave me an idea…hmm. Click the images to enlarge them.

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7 Comments
  1. ~xtian permalink

    That’s one handsome looking devil. All we get for an official bird is some goofy looking football shaped brown thing with enormous feet that never figured out that it’s a bird at all. We love it, but the poor kiwi is definitely one of nature’s silly accidents.

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