Vancouver is playing host to two significant bird events this summer — the 27th International Ornithological Congress, which takes place every four years and attracts ornithologists (bird scientists) from around the world, and the inaugural Vancouver International Bird Festival.
Each week leading up to the festival and congress Aug. 19-26, we’ll highlight a different bird. British Columbia is home to 573 species of birds and many can be found in and around Vancouver.
Bird of the Week
Length: 30-34 centimetres
Wingspan: 44 centimetres
Weight: 100-140 grams
Closely related to the blue jay, the Steller’s jay has longer legs, a more slender bill and a much larger crest. They have a long body, an often upright stance, broad, rounded wings and a long tail.
The Steller’s jay has a brown-black or blue-black head that gradually fades down through the chest and shoulders turning to grey-blue and eventually bright blue in the primaries and tail. The tail and wings have black barring. They may have light blur streaks on the forehead and a small, white patch above the eye. The legs and bill are black.
The Steller’s jay prefers forests and heavily wooded areas, although it isn’t uncommon to see them in lightly wooded environments or residential and agricultural areas that have a forest nearby.
Steller’s jays forage in trees and on the ground for plant and animal matter. They eat a considerable amount of coniferous seeds and acorns and a wide variety of other seeds and nuts, berries and invertebrates. They may also take eggs and nestlings, small rodents and small reptiles.
Known for its vocal mimicry, imitating other birds, animals and even man-made sounds, the Steller’s jay will imitate the call of raptors to successfully frighten away smaller birds from shared feeding sources.
Steller’s jays are monogamous, nest in trees, lay between two and six greenish-blue eggs with brown speckles and have one brood.
More about birds:
- 10 simple birding tips
Source: Vancouver International Bird Festival