Posted by: atowhee | June 23, 2009

Steller’s close and conversational

The Steller’s Jays own our garden.  Just ask ’em.  And they often can be heard screaming, like political pundits on a cable news channel.  When they find an owl or hawk, “Yay-Yay-Yay!  Shuk-shuk-shuk-shuk!”  Whenever I give them peanuts the first Steller into the garden gives out the news, and others gather.  So this loudness serves a collective survival purpose.

However, the jays do have more subtle communications.  They can whisper, ask soft questions from the willow, even sound a bit like a hen “crawwwww-crawwww.”  And up close they’re a delight to watch at the dining table: not every peanut is created equal to a discerning jay.  I can see them sending back the fish dish at a fancy restaurant, “not properly done.STJAhandsome5-2




















IMG_8306Love those fine line eyebrows on the Steller’s forehead.IMG_8309



















Georg Wilhelm Steller was the physician/naturalist on the exploration expedition of Capt. Bering, sent into the northern Pacific by the Russia’s Empress Anna.  He spent only a few hours on North American land, specifically Kayak Island, in 1741.  During that brief time he found several species of animals new to European science.  He was the first true naturalist to visit the Pacific Coast of North America.  He preceeded Captain Cook  by more than twenty years.

Steller saw his namesake jay on that remote island, along with Steller’s sea cow, Steller’s sealion, Steller’s Eider.  Steller himself barely survived the expedition when Bering led their ship aground and most other expedition members perished.  Even the hardy Steller died in Siberia, never returning to Europe with his drawings and specimens.  Other scientists in St. Petersburg later went over his notes and gave him discovery credit.


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