Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

The Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is the largest jay in North America measuring in at 12-13 inches. Like many humans, this bird knows it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve. They have a few unique skills that might surprise you.

The Steller’s Jay is related to the Blue Jay but has a slimmer bill and longer legs. It is also the only western jay with a crest. The front part of this jay is black while the back, wings and tail are dark blue. This coloring helps the Steller’s Jay easily blend in with the evergreen forests of the mountainous West where it is typically found, although this bird is also known to frequent campgrounds, parks, and backyards.

This bird is very intelligent and opportunistic. Steller’s Jays usually travel in pairs or family groups. They have a complex social and communication system, with a variety of calls, postures and displays. For instance, a spread wing shows submission, and a raised crest might mean attack. Steller’s Jays may also mimic the screams of hawks and Golden Eagles. This bird feeds mainly on acorns and pine seeds, but will raid other bird’s nests for eggs and nestlings. They will also eat small reptiles, nuts, berries, fruits, and insects.  Curiously, these jays have distendable esophagi that they are able to use to carry acorns and nuts. These foods are often cached for the winter or saved for eating at a later time. What unique skills do you have up your sleeve?

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