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Steller's Jay
Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri.
Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri
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Where are they found? North America

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The Steller's Jay is British Columbia's provincial bird. It is a large, striking, bright blue and black songbird with a dark crest on its head. The wings and tail are a bright blue, and the body is a bit darker. The forehead generally has white and sky blue streaks. These birds are between 30 and 34 cm long (12 to 13 in.). Males and females look very similar.

There is, nonetheless, a lot of variation among Steller’s Jays throughout their North American range: All have dark barring on the wings and tail, but the colours can differ noticeably. Some populations have black crests and backs while others have blue ones. The Rocky Mountain variety of the species has white crescents above the eyes.

Although this bird is recognized by its striking blue colour, this appearance is deceiving: blue pigments do not actually exist in birds! The blue that we see is caused by the way that certain internal feather structures reflect the light that shines on them. The reflected light is blue, so the birds appear blue. If these feathers are backlit, their surfaces don't reflect the light the way they usually do, so they no longer seem blue, but brown.

Steller's Jays live primarily in dense coniferous forests, but they can regularly be seen in treed residential areas. They are not shy around humans, which means they are easy to observe. They are even bold-enough to steal food from picnic tables and campgrounds. Their diet is omnivorous, consisting of arthropods, acorns, nuts, fruits, seeds, small vertebrates, eggs of other birds and small nestlings. They hoard food, such as acorns, nuts and seeds, in caches around their territory for times when food is scarce.

The Steller's Jay has the most extensive range of any North American jay. It can be found all along the Pacific Ocean coast of North and Central America, in the coniferous forests of the mountain ranges from Alaska to Nicaragua.


More Images
Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri. Photo: Steller's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri.


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“Steller's Jay”. [Online]. Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature.
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