Bird Lady Blog

March 3, 2012

Steller’s Jay, American Crow, and Away We Go

Photo courtesy of Joseph V. Higbee

Some of us are packing it up and heading south.  I will be spending the winter and spring in Scottsdale, and already I’m looking forward to planting flowers in our garden and birding.  So far in our new home I have seen the following at our feeder from my office window:  American Cardinal, Inca Dove, Mourning Dove, Abert’s Towhee, Gamble’s Quail, Curved-Bill Thrasher, Red-Shafted Flicker, House Finch, and House Sparrow.  I also saw flying in our new neighborhood, but not at our feeder, Lesser Nighthawk, Harris Hawk, Turkey Vulture, and Western Wood Peewee.

There will be a few birds over the winter in Munds Park for sure, and I would like to hear from those of you who live here year-round about what birds you see.  I think two of the more common birds you will see are Steller’s Jay and American Crow.  They are related – both from the Corvidae family of birds in the Passerine order.  The American Crow is found throughout most of the United States, while the Steller’s Jay is found only in the Western part of the country and usually in habitat that is 3,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level.

The Steller’s Jay will be after peanuts if you put them out.  These birds are very smart and will watch for you, especially if you have a consistent time of day for filling your peanut feeder or placing peanuts on your deck railings.  With its black and crested head,  iridescent body, and loud call, the Steller’s Jay is will continue to remind you all year long that it is a proud and loud resident of Munds Park.

I had a business colleague in Los Angeles who told me once that she thought the American Crow is an urban phenomenon.  What she meant by that, I think, was that this large, all-black, social, mischievous, and noisy bird seemed to find itself at home in LA parks, parking lots, school yards, and lawns as well as the wilderness outskirts of the city.  American Crows live in most parts of the United States, and they are year-round residents.  While they eat insects, earthworms, small animals, seeds, and fruit, they will also pick at garbage, frequent landfills, and eat the stale bread or popcorn you may throw out the door for them.  American Crows nest early – about April – and they do not breed until they are at least two years old.  They are monogamous, and the mated pairs form families that stay together for many years.  American Crows have come to our bird bath in Munds Park and always more than one show up.  I am guessing it’s a few of the “teenagers” going out on their own for an exciting adventure at a new watering hole.

I plan on taking a few birding trips over the winter, including one to Wisconsin in October.  Hopefully I will get to add at least one “lifer” to my birding list.  However, I have come to realize that one never knows where the next new bird will appear, so a pair of binoculars is always at hand wherever I go.  Each day is an opportunity to open our eyes and ears to the wonderful nature around us, which includes our feathered neighbors.


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