Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gray Jay - Smart?

So who hasn't experienced a Gray Jay (aka Whiskeyjack or Camp Robber) landing on their hand, or head or stealing something from you very close at hand?  They are ubiquitous birds in and around coniferous forests, from the arctic and coast to coast in Canada.   My friends at Hinterland Who's Who say, "They are indelibly associated with Canada's great Northern Forests" - hard to argue with that statement.

In the Bella Coola Valley you occasionally see them at some bird feeders, and around homes only if the homes are very close to the coniferous forests on the valley sides.  At East Branch of course they are anywhere people spend time.  I've always wondered if they are just dumb and trusting or super smart?  Hinterland Who's Who gives them a pretty good rating on the brain power - since they survive by actually caching all that food they steal from people (they have an interesting habit of working it back and forth in their mouth to coat it with sticky saliva, then cache it under a piece of bark or moss in a tree for later in the year). With some birds making a 1000 caches of food which apparently they can remember, I'm thinking they are actually pretty smart birds. 

It's hard to get bored with these guys though, their antics are always a fun diversion on an outing at East Branch, especially on a sunny day like today with temperatures near zero Celsius and great winter conditions. Grizzly

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