Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Steller’s Jay

As I populate my eBird checklists with photographs, another species surfaced that escaped note in this blog. We photographed this Steller’s Jay in Lacey, Washington, on 17 June 2008. This jay is common in conifer forests, from Alaska to Central America. They invade campgrounds and cities, and are common at bird feeders.

With such a large range, often isolated by mountain ranges, there is no surprise that the Steller’s Jay exhibits considerable geographic variation. Seventeen races are recognized by Walker et al. (2014). These subspecies fall into two groups, northern ones with long, black crests and southern birds, with short, blue ones. Races also differ in the amount of white on the head and in general body size. Southern birds tend to be smallest. Where these races come into contact, populations are intermediate and presumably interbreed.

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