Friday 18 October 2013

Western Scrub Jay At Home in Maple Ridge

Oct 17 2013 Maple Ridge York St/ 119th/South of Dewdney Trunk Road.

The well documented pair of Western Scrub Jays that have been reported in Maple Ridge were nowhere to be seen. An hour of fruitless searching passed when suddenly another birder spotted a single bird in a tall fir.
Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
The Western Scrub Jay is more often found in drier climates, especially
where there is an abundance of oak and juniper.
Soon after another Jay landed in a tree about 50 feet away, affording me a shot against the blue sky. I was lucky, moments before the fog was so thick photography would have been a challenge. No sooner had I rattled off a few shots, the bird was spooked by crows and flew off to York St/119th.  I followed the bird to a hazelnut tree where I was greeted by several residents who wanted to know what I was looking at. Tripods and bazooka lens tend to draw crowds.
Long time York Street resident Scott Fraser has been feeding one of the birds for three years. The first Western Scrub Jay arrived at his feeder in the summer of 2011, emaciated and in poor condition. After a steady diet of sunflowers and peanuts the bird steadily regained its health. In the autumn of 2011 it left only to return the following spring, this time accompanied by a mate. The newer arrival is quieter, a little smaller and quite shy in comparison. Eventually (she) did come down on the lawn for a peanut. One shot and it was gone back into the tree. Scott thinks they nested in a bramble bush but the squirrels got to the eggs.
Since their arrival, the two birds have had to fight off a number of Steller's Jays. No doubt a noisy confrontation, a tussle they have apparently won. Scott rarely sees the commoner Steller's in his garden anymore. While I was there the original Scrub Jay even chased off a Northern Flicker.

This scrub Jay was in poor health when it arrived at Scott Fraser's garden in 2011.
The pair spent last winter in the vicinity due to a plentiful supply of peanuts and sunflower seeds provided by many feeders in the area. I then spoke to one of Scott's neighbours whose pet Parakeet now mimics the Scrub Jays when they visit her garden. She also confirmed the bird was there in 2012.
Western Scrub Jay on Scott Fraser's front lawn.
I hope you enjoyed  this blog. Good Birding

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