EDITOR’S NOTE: Our newest columnist Neil Ball shares photos and profiles of local birds that he’s seen and studied in our area.
By Neil Ball
The Steller’s Jays are the only native Jays that you can find in B-Town.
With their deep blue body and jet-black head, it is hard to mistake them for another bird. Their blue appearance is hard to blend in a green canopy, but they are not a bird that tries to be inconspicuous. They are loud and boisterous and arrive at the feeder with a flourish and with what is described as an unmusical, harsh “sheck-sheck-sheck”.
Clearly, this is a bird that is not afraid of attention.
The Steller’s Jays, like most Jays, are omnivores, which means they will eat anything. While most of their diet consists of nuts, seeds, and other plant matter, they are not opposed to eating meat. They are known to scavenge for leftovers or raid other bird nests, like their relatives, the Crows. At the bird feeders, they prefer sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet cakes.
While most of their calls can be quite harsh, Steller’s Jays are excellent mimics. They have mastered the calls of several predator birds, such as the Red-tailed Hawk. They use these mimic calls to scare other birds away from a feeder, not that other birds can out-compete with the Jay.
About the only time a Steller’s Jay is quiet is during nesting season. Stealth helps keep the nest hidden from predators like crows and racoons. While the female sits on the eggs for the two weeks it takes to incubate the small clutch of four eggs, the male is responsible for bringing her dine-in meals.
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