Columbia's provincial bird is a bright blue jay, but it is not the
Blue Jay of eastern North America. This member of the crow family
is bright blue on its wings, tail, and underparts, with a black
hood extending from its upperparts to the top of its crested head.
The species was first collected by the German naturalist Georg Steller,
while working as a doctor on one of Vitus Bering's expeditions to
It is most common
on Vancouver Island and in the southern part of the province, from
sea level to about 2,100 meters in the interior, preferring coniferous
and mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands. Steller's Jays, like other
members of the crow family, are opportunistic omnivores. This species
is an important player in the dispersal of Garry Oak acorns, which
it collects, and caches for future use. In the spring, jays will
prey on the eggs and nestlings of other birds.
Jay gives a variety of raucous calls and scolds, and is an accomplished
mimic; it will often give the call of a Red-tailed Hawk when an
interloper comes into its territory.
are common visitors to forested parks, and will venture into suburban
areas in some winters.
Phil & Loretta