a somewhat occasional blog

Steller’s Jay, Alaska and a German Naturalist

The Steller’s Jay is another entertaining members of the Crow/Corvid family found in North America. In Colorado I was a bit disappointed to only see a few. My travels along the West Coast of the continent have always been graced with many of these birds, foraging around car parks or in large gardens. And boy are they noisy. This fellow, however, was silent as it  perched on a tree outside my hotel in Sunlight.

Stellar's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)

Steller’s Jay – (Cyanocitta stelleri)


Although my Steller’s Jay was restrained in his or her behaviour, more likely because it was the breeding season and a nest to conceal, I love this description by  Mr. Nuttall:

‘They are, however, far more bold, irritable, and familiar. Watchful as dogs, a stranger no sooner shews himself in their vicinity than they neglect all other employment to come round, follow, peep at and scold him, sometimes with such pertinacity and irritability as to provoke the sportsman intent on other game to level his gun against them in mere retaliation. At other times, stimulated by mere curiosity, they will be observed to follow you in perfect silence, until something arouses their ready ire, when the djay, djay, pay, pay, is poured upon you without intermission, till you are beyond their view.’

My postings on Colorado have often included reference to the great American Ornithologist’s.  But the Steller’s Jay was in fact first discovered by  a great German naturalist.


Georg Steller

Stellar spent a mere 10 hours in Alaska in which time he encountered a Steller’s Jay. realising that the bird was ‘akin to the American Jay’ he concluded that the land he was walking on was, in fact, part of North America. What is also of interest, sadly, is…

Of the six species of birds and mammals that were discovered by and, generally, named after the star-crossed scientist, two are extinct (the Steller’s sea cow and the Spectacled Cormorant), and three are endangered or in severe decline (Steller’s sea lion, Steller’s Eider and Steller’s Sea Eagle)

The only one that is not extinct, threatened or in decline is the Stellar’s Jay.

Sadly I will never see a Steller’s Sea Cow, but selfishly hope I will one day see the mighty Steller’s Sea Eagle in Hokkaido.  One day I hope to to the Vardanger Fjord see his Eider. More importantly I hope that they take a turn for the better and start to increase. However with the melting of the Arctic and the rampant exploration and exploitation of both I hold little hope for either, especially the Eider.

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