Sunday, December 21, 2014
You'll know they've arrived before you see them.
The highly social Mexican Jay is a noisy bird. Traveling in small family groups, they command your attention by their numbers and clamorous calls.
This band of about a dozen Mexican Jays arrived at the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, Arizona on a routine stop to partake in the feast set out for birds.
The seed, suet and sugar-water buffet behind the Santa Rita Gift Shop attracts birds to this mountainside lodge in uncounted numbers.
The birders who line up to watch the birds could be counted, but no one has.
Mexican Jays are in the same family as Blue Jays found in Wisconsin all year long. Crows, Ravens and Magpies are close relatives.
In shades of blue and gray the Mexican Jay is slightly less colorful then the Blue Jay, yet still impressive in size and shape.
Gregarious by nature, they attract attention with their energetic darting, dashing and bouncing.
The family groups stay together for years. Males and females look alike with only the juveniles giving away their age. The telltale white on the bill indicates an age of less than two years old. With time the bill will turn completely black.
Handouts from people are not their only resource. Living in pine/oak forests at higher elevations, they thrive on acorns and pine nuts stored for the winter. Along with insects and invertebrates they manage quite well without the people food.
Mexican Jays are resourceful and manage quite well. They can't be blamed for taking the low hanging fruit provided by humans. They are of Least Concern as to their survival in the foreseeable future.
That is not the case for far too many birds.
Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
Credit: The Sibley's Guide to Birds