Steller’s Jay

Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is a bird in the Corvidae family. It is native to western North America and the mountains of Central America, closely related to the blue jay found in eastern North America. It is also known as the long-crested jay, mountain jay, and pine jay. It is the only crested jay west of the Rocky Mountains. It is also sometimes colloquially called a “blue jay” in the Pacific Northwest, but is distinct from the blue jay (C. cristata) of eastern North America. The species inhabits pine-oak and coniferous forests.

Steller’s jays are omnivores; their diet is about two-thirds plant matter and one-third animal matter. They gather food both from the ground and from trees. Steller’s jay’s diet includes a wide range of seeds, nuts, berries and other fruit. They also eat many types of invertebrates, small rodents, eggs, and nestlings such as those of the marbled murrelet. There are some accounts of them eating small reptiles, both snakes and lizards.

Acorns and conifer seeds are staples during the non-breeding season; these are often cached in the ground or in trees for later consumption. They exploit human-provided food sources, frequently scavenging picnics and campsites. Steller’s jays will visit feeders and prefer black-oil sunflower seeds, white striped sunflower seeds, cracked corn, shelled raw peanuts, and are especially attracted to whole raw peanuts.

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