Cheetos Connoisseur

Although we enjoyed being able to spend the entire month of January in the mask-free state of Texas, the fact we had to move all of our medical appointments and checkups to this month has got us lately feeling a bit …hmm.. let’s go with …. blue.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Oh, before I go any further, I am reminded by the fluffy cotton ball currently covering a large gaping, cavernous, crater of a hole in the middle of my arm that today was lab day, meaning about 50 vials of my precious life sustaining blood has been maliciously sucked out of my body by a dominatrix dressed up in nurse clothing. I keep telling my doctor I was the reference for Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and this whole drain me within inches of my life is entirely unnecessary. Then he holds up my medical records with the running err “events” circled in red, takes out his little blue pad, with his blue pen filled with evil blue ink to remind his blue clad nurse to schedule the draining (complete with one of those god-awful smiley faces on it).

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump to read about this high crested Jay…well, maybe.

Guessing you are really here to learn more about our oddly colored Cardinal. Hold your breath for just a few more seconds as I need to get another item out of the way. In my defense, this one does have something to do with birding. I mentioned in a previous post that I had updated the Birding Chronicles page (link here) and was hoping to get a new video out that Ron made of our birding excursions thus far. Well, the video is done, but now having a horrible time getting it to embed properly with the WordPress editor. Used to work, now it doesn’t work. Tired of fighting it and instead just going with a link to view it off my gallery page. If interested in seeing what Ron is able to do with his software Sliver and Google Earth, feel free to use the following link.

The Average Year Birding Map

I’ll have Ron update this video from time to time as we continue this year’s campaign.

If you’ve been holding your breath this long, you are probably a bit blue in the face. Feel free to exhale now, we are finally ready to dive into today’s featured feathered friend.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Been a bit busy trying to get all the birding lists updated in eBird from the January trip which involved going through thousands and thousands of shots to remember what was seen each day. That, with all the doctors visits, has limited my ability to process recent finds. Today’s bird was already in the queue (the only “blue” one I could find) and comes to you from our Lake Tahoe trip back in May 2019. Honestly, that is like only two months ago on Intrigued time.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

The Steller’s Jay is not new to the blog. It was first featured back in September 2009 from a trip to the Rockies and Yellowstone (link here to some horrible shots). Managed to get a much better set of shots and featured our black and blue friend again in March 2017 (link here). See, it only took me 5 years this time hehehe.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Steller’s are one of those birds that you long to see because they are quite cool looking. Outside the Pileated Woodpecker (link here), this is probably the closest to looking like Woody Woodpecker in the US. Instead of the red crest, these Steller’s went for a more subdued tone with highlight features I’ll get to in a moment. I did go back and verify Woody does sport a blue toned body so that much matches (then watched way too many YouTube clips from the old cartoon as if I needed any more distractions!).

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

As much as I look forward to seeing these creatures, it doesn’t take long for you to tire of them once you make it into their region. They hang out year long in a two prong band coming down out of the northwest corner. One branch extends into New Mexico and Arizona and the other meanders partway down the west coast. Find yourself in that area and it should not be hard to encounter one. They lay claim to relying on insects, seeds, berries and other species’ eggs (like those asshats the Blue Jays). In reality they are junk food fiends that prefer to hang out in picnic areas looking for a kid to lose their grip on a Cheetos.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

This particular sighting resulted in learning something new about our blue friend that I didn’t catch in my previous sightings. If you happened to look at the second past link to the Steller’s you might notice the crown had white accents in the crest. Assumption then is that was the standard coloring. When I looked at the tins from this Lake Tahoe trip, they appeared contrary to that opinion – residents here were showing off a blue highlight. Did some research and learned that you can tell which branch the Steller’s come from – interior ones have a white striping where the coastals swap that for blue. The rest of the coloring appears to match.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Mentioned earlier that this Jay also preys on eggs/chicks of other nests. At least it isn’t a brood parasite like those damn top of the hate list Cowbirds (link here). They do have another annoying habit. In this case, I’m lucky they are outside my home region. Cornell’s website described it perfectly “Steller’s Jays keep up a running commentary on events”. Obnoxiously chatty and sure to get on your nerves should you choose to picnic in their vicinity. “They are getting out of their car, they are getting the picnic basket out of their car, they are walking toward the picnic table, everyone is taking a plate, looks like chicken from KFC today, now pouring some water.. wait, wait, we have Kool-Aid, small child reaches into Cheetos bag, seems to be losing its grip, [moves in for a closer look], yes, gonna get me a snack, hey Woody don’t get any ideas, I have dibs on that Cheeto…” and so the play-by-play chatter goes, on and on and on and on like some Intrigued blog writer!

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Will end it there before I blackout – all the blood “loss” is making me a bit woozy. By “loss” I really mean held down by 5 ex-marines while extracted against my will Acid Queen from Tommy style – “guaranteed to tear [my] soul apart”.

33 thoughts on “Cheetos Connoisseur”

    1. Welcome and thank you Mary! If they were not in the Jay family this bird would be a lot higher in my bird ranking as they are quite stunning – they just have some behavior tendencies that are not too neighborly ha. Admittedly, I have been very hard on my body over the many years in team sports, martial arts and now ultra-marathons. Appreciate the wishes and fingers crossed this is just a tiny bump in the road (or in my case more like a tiny root on the dirt trail).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rudi, appreciate you stopping by. By the way, is your beautiful cat available to write posts for me – it seems quite technically capable and I’d be willing to pay in cat food!?!

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    1. I think “sassy” is the perfect word to describe this bird .. followed by “chatty” ha! I’m no stranger to physically abusing my body and last year’s trail racing was probably the hardest one yet – actually, the training is probably more damaging than the actual races – regardless, need to get something addressed before I start hitting it hard for this year’s campaign, especially since the goal is to enter the next realm of distances (you can imagine the ear full the wife is giving – maybe I should start referring to her as my steller wife and hope she doesn’t get the pun ha)!

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  1. LOL! Enjoyed your play-by-play commentary. Hopefully, you’re exaggerating greatly when you write that you gave 50 vials of blood today?? Our Arizona Stellar’s Jays are much larger than these guys. But large or small, they are all really handsome birds. 🌞

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    1. Admittedly, I may have exaggerated just a titch on the vial count ha! Now I am intrigued to know if there are additional differences between the coastal and the interior branch with size being another area. Will have to do some researching and I think this warrants a trip out to that fine state to investigate for myself – last time I was there I was a child, but your Hummingbird variety has always been a pull for me. Appreciate you coming by and thanks for the reminder we need to keep our hearts in perfect running order!

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  2. Hahaha! Really sounds like the vampires got the better of you! Are you sure they aren’t creating a clone?
    Again, learned something new about a bird I have known for many years (having lived in their territory a few times), the white and blue on the peak. Hummm, didn’t know that!
    Hope you were able to find a nice couch to lay down on to regain your strength. I hear that a nice cold adult beverage is helpful in blood loss situations.πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Hears to you and a quick recovery.🍾

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    1. Clones!?! now that is a horrifying idea – Linda always claims the world could only ever handle one of me hehehehe. Now, if they were able to make a soulless clone that could be quite useful as a spare and I could finally stop feeding this pig I bought several years ago in case I needed some parts – I cannot believe how much those things eat!! After escaping the vampires, stumbling out into the thankfully sunny parking lot (pursues were instantly burned to a crisp) and then Linda racing home to get me to safety I was too tired to even lift a cup – of course, this didn’t stop the Poodle horde from using my spent carcass as a spring board to dive into their giant pile of toys. Against all odds, back on my feet today and waiting for results. Thanks for the well wishes and guessing your lockdowns have or will be lifting soon. Downstate IL has already decided they are done with our tax evading governor and it is business as normal around here.

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      1. Yeah, we are close to being done with the rules here. The 25th is the golden date as of now. Although I won’t consider it over until they lift all the masks on public transport and restrictions on flying. Nothing like 8 hrs in an airplane breathing my own bad breath.πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ I now feel sorry for all my prior passenger mates from the past.
        Best wishes with the blood bank outcome. Been there done that and got no damn T-shirts for the experience.!

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      2. Looks like our governor lost his battle and is begrudgingly rescinding the mask mandates for both business and now schools (again, downstate had moved on long ago on the business front). School battles were heating up big time and the courts finally ruled against it. I’m finally recovered from the latest jab and suck dry event although the couple of runs after that were a bit of a struggle. I laughed at your T-shirt comment – HOW TRUE! Appreciate the wishes.

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  3. Brilliant blue! So much so I thought my monitor was going haywire with cyan. Are the white highlights you mentioned on the other photos a trick of the light? Sort of like ruby-throated hummies looking black in the “wrong” light?
    I’m O+ if you need a pint or so.

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    1. Is it the Twilight Zone that started with – there is nothing wrong with your [monitor], do not attempt to adjust the [monitor], we are not controlling the horizontal and vertical and we can shape your vision to anything we can conceive – hmm, maybe that was Outer Limits – regardless – Intrigued now controls your blue pixel intensity ha! This Jay does not have the iridescent feathering Hummers do so not trick of light with the other photos. You did remind me of the first time I witnessed an Anna’s fly from a shadow into a ray of sunshine – holy cow did that shock me to the point I was looking around to see if Leslie Stevens was behind me. Doubt a pint is going to do me at this point as I am pretty sure I’m at least 8 pints down – did manage to get 8 miles in at Jubilee late yesterday (because I couldn’t pass up 50 degree weather in February) so it looks like I’ll make it – thank you for the offer though.

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    1. An interesting observation Maggie – I will have to keep that in mind on my future encounters and see if I can notice a distinct regional difference. I do tend to underexpose my shots just slightly so I do not blow detail so it is possible that increased the hue, although I doubt it as I recall these specimens being pretty colorful. I twas also surprisingly cold up there in the mountains (I did not expect that or dress for that being May and all). Appreciate you coming by and for the additional information!

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      1. Just a good regional observation on your point and now eager to to do some research on it to see if it is a known distinction, maybe diet or or something that would account for the different – I like a good puzzle!

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  4. That is a beautiful bird, steller indeed. I am writing quickly as I have internet on this very windy day and then I am going to go check out your video. Maybe you could look into making You Tube videos, I would be your first subscriber, I am thinking your adventures and humor would make some great entertainment and informative at the same time, as your post are. 😊

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    1. Glad to see you got some bandwidth Sandra! You gave me an excellent idea on how to address my video issues — been getting really frustrated trying to resolve this issue between SmugMug and WordPress – I’ve used my galleries on Smug essentially since I started this blogging hobby 15 years ago without issue – that was stills of course, videos, have been a pain. Created a YouTube channel and been doing some investigations – preliminary findings are very positive. Not to mention my brother Ron has been pushing for years to start an instructional channel for all my Halloween prop work so it has benefits on many fronts. Do you happen to have recommendation on video editing software and do you use any video devices beyond your phone and your drone, DSLR?

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      1. I have heard of smug mug but have never actually looked at it. I really think you tube would be the best, it is so easy to use and makes transferring videos very fast. I don’t put my longer videos on word press, I usually just put a link for those. You have all the elements for a great channel, humor, tutorials, birding. Some folks stick to a certain topic on there channels. I do a little of everything. Mostly just what we are doing on our average days, that involves nature. I like to throw in some short videos of my dogs or cat for fun. People love seeing animals.
        My most use camera for a lot of videos is a Go Pro, they are great for moving or action shots. They only thing they can’t do is zoom in. So that is where I use my bridge camera next for video footage, it has a good slo mo option also. There are a lot of new devices out there, I have heard the DJI mini 2 is good, but you have to have a compatible phone to use it.
        On video editing software, a lot of people use Adobe Premier pro, I may switch to that one day. I started with Movavi video editing and still use that. Mostly because I am so used to it. It is simple to use but I did download DaVinci Resolve, a few people recommended that one. There is a free version or you can buy one. I have used it a couple of times, mainly because it has more options if you need color adjustments or removing noise on videos. Like for my night lapse videos. Let me know when you start a channel and send me the link. I look forward to your creative adventures 😊

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      2. I am definitely finding it easy to get my videos ups there and it embeded directly into a test post with zero issues and worked!!! Appreciate the camera advice. I was actually looking at the Go-Pro option as that was what another YouTuber I follow was using – he goes through probably a 100 of those a year as he keeps blowing them up or shooting them accidentally. I didn’t know about their lack of zoom. I have HD capabilities on all my Nikon DSLR bodies so I could probably handle the zoom shots with that (although not sure it has a slo mo). I will look into the Adobe software- I use their suite for all my image cataloging and manipulation already so that might be an easy transition. Will keep you posted on how this goes – it takes a lot of energy and time to keep this post going (now in my 15th year) – hoping this doesn’t add much to that effort. Very much appreciate the help!

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  5. Loved the photos of the Steller’s Jay, and good work on getting (and noticing) the blue vs white crown markings. Appreciated the included shake shingles – great texture and visual interest. Fell over laughing at the riff on the picnic cheetos – perfect! I was able to display the video – very cool presentation of your trips… but where was the jaunt to Dauphin Island? πŸ™‚ Hope the tests are all ok – stay loose.

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    1. Thank you Sam! I thought you might appreciate the shingle shots – Tahoe had a lot of sheds, and cabins with that nice textured covering along with really nice pines trees giving a really rustic feel to the area Glad you were able to see the video – Sandra above gave me a much better solution on the video front that I am currently trying out – look for better success in the coming months on that front. That video just covers the sites I’ve been since we started our “Average Year” (start of this year) – we hit Dauphin last April. Great news though, we just made reservations for a stay on Dauphin for this April in hopes of similar success with the migration this year – really looking forward to that visit again (Ron is coming down as well). Almost done with the tests at least for this month. Once I get my final referral consultation I can make plans to get this all taken care of so I can refocus on getting back to ultra-marathon form (although truthfully I have still been hitting the training fairly hard and guessing I’m going to be hearing about that from the doctors when I see them sigh). Appreciate the well wishes and enjoying your rookery shots.

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    1. Thank you Maria. glad you enjoyed them. I think you’ve perfectly captured the essence of photography. Appreciate you stopping by and have a great rest of your week.

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