Saturday, July 3, 2010

nm birds 1 [steller's jay]

i recently went back home to new mexico for a family reunion. naturally, no trip to new mexico would be complete without my camera. in fact, clothes were a secondary consideration; as long as i had my camera with me, everything else would work itself out.

yes, i'm obsessed. i have a hard time leaving the house without my camera just to go check the mail. hey, you never know what you might see on the way to the mailbox…

anyway, this is the first of five posts featuring some birds one might see on a vist to the land of enchantment, which include steller's jay (this post), an unidentified hummingbird, an unidentified perching bird, an unidentified bird going to town on some dandelion seeds, and…well, you get the picture: i'm going to need some of my faithful readers to help me identify these ufos (unidentified feathered objects).

but on to the one bird i had no trouble identifying: steller's jay.

steller's jay posing
(click the picture for a larger version)

these aren't the greatest photos, as composing an ideal shot that morning — one where the jay actually stood still for more than a few seconds, was well-exposed, and where the background and foreground weren't so messy (or if i would have been able to dial in a shallow depth of field) — proved to be very difficult. but despite that, i liked the way the blue patch of sky matched perfectly with the color of the jay's feathers in this next pic.
steller's jay foraging
(click the picture for a larger version)

like a lot of other jays, these guys can be quite noisy when they want to be. adept at mimicry, steller's jays can imitate the sounds of cats, dogs, squirrels, chickens, certain types of machinery, and, of course, other birds. in this particular instance, however, my jay preferred not to break the peaceful morning silence while he hopped around looking for items on the breakfast menu, which can include insects, seeds, nuts, and berries. and like others in the jay family, they also rob other birds' nests for eggs and/or hatchlings.
steller's jay staring
steller's jay foraging
(click the picture for a larger version)

while that's all very impressive, i just like their "mohawk." in fact, that's one of the first dead giveaways that it's a steller's jay. since their coloring and markings can vary by region, this rebellious hairstyle makes identification pretty fool-proof.
curious steller's jay

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