Why So Blue Woody?

So far it has been a pretty productive blogging effort this March. Think this is my third post and the month is only 5 days old! Truth be told, there was a slight lull in my daily grind with the recent neck surgery which put a hold on my run training schedule. This gave a lot of extra time to work up images ahead of time – that is the most time consuming part of this little enterprise. Fortunately, that lull is over now and I’m back to pounding the pavement every other day (today put in 10 miles, but need to start pushing it – race season commences mid April and losing 13 days because of the stitches didn’t help). While the legs rest for a bit thought it would be a good time to exercise the fingers and pound out a post (never hurts to get ahead of the self-imposed blogging quota).

Since I led this month with two back to back bird posts, figured it was about time to go with something different…
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014
Ummm, well admittedly that is another bird, but it is different! This time it is not a new bird on my birding list. See, completely different. The Steller’s Jay already debuted on my blog 8 years back (link here) It is quite shocking to think I am in my 10th year of blogging – where has the time gone? The time not spent running that is ha. Like the previous time, this Steller’s was shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado back in May 2014. If you live in the heartland (or fly over country for the coasters) like me, you are going to have to make your way out west if you want to have a chance to see these rather cool looking birds. Probably a good thing for our birds seeing how intimidating these Jays look in person – might give our local birds a complex.
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014

Hit the jump to see a few more images of the Steller’s and maybe learn some interesting facts.

My brother Ron has always held the belief that the great thing about bird photography is every outing is a second chance. Every encounter with a bird is another opportunity to get an image in the tin that is better technically from the previous experience. Maybe a new expression or behavior not experienced to date but now forever captured in digital bits to recall memories, decorate your walls or fodder for a post. Sure, a new bird is clearly the goal of every outing, but unlike most activities even the common takes on new knowledge points or creative challenges (light, exposure, motion, obstructions) that bring enjoyment to photographers in the field (well, in the mountains in this specific instance). The pictures from this shoot validate that truism. My first shots left a lot of room for improvement and I have to say, a lot of that ground was made up with this set. Pleased with both the technical improvement and much better expression/poses.
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014
Will probably print up a couple in the first three – leaning to the first or third with the latter mainly because of the quizzical pose. This bird also happens to be one of the few birds that do not look totally goofy when looked head on. The white racing lines tend to pull your view away from the typical bug eye look a straight on perspective tends to produce.

Coming up on the last of the pictures so let’s see what Cornell has to offer in terms of interesting facts. Always like to leave my readers a little more educated than they were at the start of the blog. Their first fact is DEAD ON. They highlight that this bird’s name has “the dubious honor of being one of the most frequently misspelled names in all of bird watching”. This always gets me, but experienced enough now to always check the spelling. Just in case you were incorrectly thinking up to this point, it is spelled correctly here (although my spellchecker has been fighting me the entire time). It was named after German naturalist Georg (yep, no ‘e’) Steller who discovered it on an Alaskan island back in 1714 while working in Russia. His name also graces the Steller’s sea lion and Steller’s Sea-Eagle

It is no secret I detest the Blue Jay and it appears the Steller’s has similar traits which draw my ire. Like their kin, they are nest robbers and will kill small birds that dare glance at them with contempt. Smart birds often buy the protection services of local Shrikes to keep the peace by pointing out nearby thorn trees whenever a Steller’s thug decides to fluff its feathers. Nothing says your kind is not welcome around here than a tree for of impaled rodents.
Steller's Jay shot in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado in May 2014
Oh, one final note. Apparently this Jay is quite the mimic with the ability to replicate the sounds of other birds, local wildlife (including dogs and god help us cats) and even mechanical objects in the area. Imagine coming up to one of them wearing shades and hearing “I’ll be Bahhhck”

That’s all I have for you today folks. Whenever I see this bird in the wild I always think someone threw blue and black paint on Woody Woodpecker.

Have a stellar day everyone!

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4 thoughts on “Why So Blue Woody?”

  1. These are beautiful photos! I have really, really awful, far away pics of one from Southern California, and I’m hoping to get better shots when I’m out there again in the near future.

    I like the first pic the best, I think, although the quizzical look is cool in the third.

    That’s right, when we were reviewing the list of birds that you hate, I forgot to bring up the Blue Jay. And now we add the Steller’s Jay. Getting to be a long list.

    I’m not really a fan of the Western Scrub-Jay, to tell you the truth, after one attacked me from afar. I know you have Gray Jay, right, and even a Green Jay, right? How about a Pinyon Jay? Hey, I just notice there is a Florida Scrub-Jay, now classified as a unique species. I’m going to have to take a closer look at what I thought were Blue Jay pics from down there. Maybe you can increase your hated bird list even more. 🙂

    Thanks for the cool pics!

    Ron

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    1. I think I’m with you the first one – definitely like that one the best. The third one does a nice job of displaying those white markings. They both have the good sig logo (not the cool one I have now hehehe) so I’ll be able to consider both of them for the UB competition this year.

      You have to agree with me, they are nasty birds – probably not to the level of those bastard Cowbirds, but their predatory egg behavior is particularly offensive. You let the cat out of the bag on the Green Jay (my future postings from a recent trip to Texas) and I thought I had a Pinyon but couldn’t locate it in my bird list folder or any of my blogs. It might be one that I have not been able to process yet – or it has simply eluded me to this point. Hey, that might give me a +2 thanks to the reclassification of the Florida Scrub-Jay and the Yellow-Rumps – sweet!

      Thanks for commenting – you really went on a binge recently

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  2. Not so fast–the Yellow-Rumped Warbler has not yet been split back into the original Audubon’s and Myrtle Warblers. And if I have a say in that, which I think I do, it won’t happen until I get a shot of an Audubon’s to increase my count, too.

    Ron

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    1. Based on my research it looks like it is a done deal, so I say we go ahead and count it now – why wait for the busy work to get completed when clearly it is two species and clearly worth of a +2 if you are lucky enough to have both!

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