Friday, March 4, 2011

Considering this one greeted us with particular interest just a short ways down the path from the parking lot, I suspect it is accustomed to well-intentioned hikers offering tasty bits. I had never noticed before the cool blue stripes on Steller's jay foreheads. Usually, when I think of these jays, I recall how well they can mimic the sounds of other birds, like red-shouldered hawks. Once while we were camping down at Morro Bay, we were puzzled over the hawk sounds we heard repeatedly with no visual confirmation. Sure enough, the sound was coming from a Steller's jay hopping around a neighboring empty campground site. I wonder why they mimic?

4 comments:

texwisgirl said...

Great shot!!! I know you always say you have a hard time photographing birds, but this is a great photo! We don't get these birds here so it was a treat to see one!

Waypoints said...

That's interesting that the Stellar's can mimic a hawk cry. I didn't know they did that, but I do remember many times hikng when I hear hawk sounds in the trees but never spot the actual raptor. Maybe they've been fooling me all along. My guess, and it's just a guess, is that behavior is a lot like when gopher snakes shake their tails in the duff to attempt to mimik a rattler. A defence ruse. I'm beginning to enjoy your site more and more.

Jennifer said...

Ha! There is one that is always in my backyard and it CONSTANTLY mimics a red-shouldered hawk! It also will sometimes mimic a bird that sounds like R2D2. The closest one I can come up with is a hooded oriole, which is interesting because I rarely see them here.

Imperfect and tense said...

Nice photo, Katie!

As for the reason for mimics, presumably, like most everything else, the reason is sex. Better repertoire than the next guy, better chance of wooing the ladies. Since I mastered the red-shouldered hawk call, I've not looked back.

I wish!