Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jay Walking

Mexican Jay at Madera Canyon
Here is another series of birds I'd like to present from this year.   I have been extremely fascinated by the group of birds known as Jays.  They come in all shades of!  They are the easiest of birds to recognize by sight and call.  Many times they'll come to you if you just wait;)

Steller's Jay of Mt. Lemmon
Their size and color also make these birds an easy one to capture on film....most of the time.  The secret?  Nuts.  Lots and lots of peanuts!  Over the course of this year, I've discovered more of these birds both here in the US and in Guatemala.  There are so many more to discover yet, but here are a few I've had the privilege of getting to know:)
Brown Jay of Tikal National Park, Guatemala

Surprisingly, not all Jays are blue.  Some are brown, green, or gray!  Take for example the Brown Jay of Tikal, Guatemala.  They were all together in their typical group fashion chatting up a storm doing what Jays do best......chasing other birds away:)

Bushy-crested Jay at Finca Pilar near Antigua, Guatemala

In Guatemala, I found them difficult to capture on film.  Most people didn't have feeders out or places to quietly stalk the birds so I had to do the best that I could.  While not the best shot, this Bushy-crested Jay was a common sight during our travels.

Unicolored Jay, Biotopo del Quetzal near Coban, Guatemala

This Unicolored Jay above is the prototype for all Jays.  It was also the most secretive.  On Ebird, it was considered a rare bird for the cloud forest we were exploring.  It's location was revealed thanks to a loud Montezuma Oropendula.  This Jay is said to be closely linked to the Pinyon Jays below.

Pinyon Jays near Greer-Overgaard, Arizona
Everyone stops to look at Jays like they do with Cardinals and all colorful birds.  But did you know that they are related to Crows and Ravens?  They are part of the Corvidae family which includes Nutcrackers, Magpies, Jackdaws and Treepies.  They are generally called Corvids by the birder crowd.

Western Scrub-Jay at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
My challenge for this year is to find an Eastern Blue Jay back in Wisconsin.  I've seen them before as a child but technically do not have them on my lifelist.  We also have other Jays that I have yet to Gray Jays!  They are indeed Gray.  In Texas, they have Green Jays! And there is a much larger list of them all around the world.  They are all just as colorful and full of character as their name suggests.

And dare I reveal a birder secret?  Sure:) The secret to finding owls can happen with the help of a Jay.  They love to bother other birds....especially Owls.  If you ever notice some sort of drama going on in the skies, tune your eyes into that area and you may just spot an owl or something rare:) Jays also have the opposite effect of chasing birds off.  Last week I was tracking a secretive Montezuma Quail and came upon a bunch of Jays quietly hanging out.  When they saw me, they all started to squack!  And the quail flew over my head!!! No pic! Bugger! Oh well, what am I to do:) This post is part of series on groups of birds I'm studying this year.  If you are interested, here is one on Trogons posted several weeks ago.  There is a lot of material to cover from this past summer and I'll have more coming up:)


  1. the mexican jay is a GORGEOUS color. and i like the scrub jay's eyebrow. :)

  2. Chris, great post on the various Jays. I really like the Brown Jay! And I would love to see the Green Jay! Great photos and post. Happy birding!

  3. Fantastic series of Jays Chris- I had no idea there was such a variety of Jays- each one is unique and beautiful.
    Happy birding :>)

  4. Love to see the Jays, and all the Corvids. On the North Rim, visitors always want to know about that blue bird with a mohawk, the Stellar.

  5. hi chris, fascinating post (as usual) . I haven't visited for a while, missed you and your blog, and i notice while I was away the owl closeup has been replaced by spectacular wetlands pic. cheers, cm

  6. Another great post Chris - so many different species of Jay. We only get one over here but they are beautiful birds :)

  7. I just googled Jays in WA Chris, it would seem we have many varieties here also, I must keep my eyes open. I can absolutely see why you find birding so fascinating, they are wonderful creatures.

  8. Just sent you a photo of our common JAY here, the Blue Jay. I assume you have seen one of these since they are SO common.

    Love seeing all of the different JAYS. I have only seen one other one, The Steller Jay. They are gorgeous birds. Mine love the peanuts I put out for them!!!


  9. Yes, Jays and crows chase birds of prey. I just took some pictures of the crows harassing a small hawk.
    Nice birdie shots Chris, as always.

  10. That Mexican Jay is gorgeous and your portait of it so intriguing. Love this jay's shade of blue.

  11. What wonderful captures of the Jays. Me, I go for any really blue bird. The eastern blue Jay we met in the eastern foothills of the Rockies. They tend to frequent anywhere there is a picnic table.

  12. Beautiful birds and the different shades of blue on the different birds are amazing. Great series of photos.

  13. They are beauties, and I'll bet all pesky. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  14. The Jays we had in the UK were black and white - but it was the sort of black that went blue in the right light.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  15. What a terrific series. Love that first pic!

  16. Beautiful! We saw Western Scrub Jays when we camped in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon last year. Then of course I saw those in your final shot when up on Mt. Lemmon over Father's Day weekend. They are all beautiful!


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