Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to go on my first official birding hike. I got to explore some fantastic natural habitat including a mixed forest, filled with ponderosa pine and aspen, a mountain stream and a beautiful lake, nestled in a valley.
The habitat is very different from what I am familiar with and I saw some birds that I do not normally come across. The best sighting of the day was a bird that can be attracted to feeders if you live within its habitat, the Steller’s Jay.
This raucous bird, which is closely related to the Blue Jay, is also known as the Long Crested Jay, the Mountain Jay and the Pine Jay. It has the widest range of any of the North American jays, ranging from southern Alaska, down south to Central America and also east to the Rocky Mountains, which is where I saw them. Once in a while, they can also be seen far from their home range, although no one really understands why. It tends to be the younger birds that are more adventurous and more likely to be seen away from their usual habitats.
The Steller’s Jay prefers forested areas. and it was no surprise that all three of the birds that I saw were near the woods at about 7,000 feet.
If you live within the usual range of the Steller’s Jay, you can probably have success attracting them with sunflower seed, corn or suet.