Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Lunch

Well, almost. When I selected my campsite at Deer Lake, I didn't realize it came with a plethora (I rarely have a need to use that wonderful word) of Steller's Jays. I discovered their presence when one descended from the trees and started pecking at my chip bag. Once I figured out where the pecking sound came from, I shooed him away. That's when I discovered that the trees were filled with "blue fruit."

I delayed my picnic hike to watch them. Jays are opportunistic birds. I'm sure they travel from site to site looking for leftovers and unguarded food. When no human food was produced, one Jay reverted to more natural behaviour.

He flew to the ground and started pecking around. At first I thought he was looking for crumbs, but then he came up with a short stick in his beak. He flew back up into the overhanging pine and began pecking at a large branch with the stick. It sounded like a woodpecker, but with less volume.

I assumed he was tapping to either dislodge or encourage insects to come out of their protective holes to be consumed. I tried to research this behaviour on the web, but didn't find any references except for crows. Since Steller's Jays are a member of the Corvid family including ravens, crows, and magpies, it isn't a far stretch to imagine them actively using tools.

Have you ever seen such a behaviour in a bird? -- Margy


  1. They are a terrific bird to sit and watch - lots of antics, and loud and raucus to boot!

  2. I watch the thrushes from my window picking up snails and beating them on the concrete to break the shells. That Jay is a lovely colour, so very different to the colourful Jays that we have in the uk xxx

  3. I love the vibrant blue of these birds.

  4. Anonymous5:02 AM

    When I lived in Colorado, the children in the neighborhood calld them Darth Vader Birds.

    I do miss them.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy