Cheetos Connoisseur

Although we enjoyed being able to spend the entire month of January in the mask-free state of Texas, the fact we had to move all of our medical appointments and checkups to this month has got us lately feeling a bit …hmm.. let’s go with …. blue.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Oh, before I go any further, I am reminded by the fluffy cotton ball currently covering a large gaping, cavernous, crater of a hole in the middle of my arm that today was lab day, meaning about 50 vials of my precious life sustaining blood has been maliciously sucked out of my body by a dominatrix dressed up in nurse clothing. I keep telling my doctor I was the reference for Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and this whole drain me within inches of my life is entirely unnecessary. Then he holds up my medical records with the running err “events” circled in red, takes out his little blue pad, with his blue pen filled with evil blue ink to remind his blue clad nurse to schedule the draining (complete with one of those god-awful smiley faces on it).

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Hit the jump to read about this high crested Jay…well, maybe.

Guessing you are really here to learn more about our oddly colored Cardinal. Hold your breath for just a few more seconds as I need to get another item out of the way. In my defense, this one does have something to do with birding. I mentioned in a previous post that I had updated the Birding Chronicles page (link here) and was hoping to get a new video out that Ron made of our birding excursions thus far. Well, the video is done, but now having a horrible time getting it to embed properly with the WordPress editor. Used to work, now it doesn’t work. Tired of fighting it and instead just going with a link to view it off my gallery page. If interested in seeing what Ron is able to do with his software Sliver and Google Earth, feel free to use the following link.

The Average Year Birding Map

I’ll have Ron update this video from time to time as we continue this year’s campaign.

If you’ve been holding your breath this long, you are probably a bit blue in the face. Feel free to exhale now, we are finally ready to dive into today’s featured feathered friend.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Been a bit busy trying to get all the birding lists updated in eBird from the January trip which involved going through thousands and thousands of shots to remember what was seen each day. That, with all the doctors visits, has limited my ability to process recent finds. Today’s bird was already in the queue (the only “blue” one I could find) and comes to you from our Lake Tahoe trip back in May 2019. Honestly, that is like only two months ago on Intrigued time.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

The Steller’s Jay is not new to the blog. It was first featured back in September 2009 from a trip to the Rockies and Yellowstone (link here to some horrible shots). Managed to get a much better set of shots and featured our black and blue friend again in March 2017 (link here). See, it only took me 5 years this time hehehe.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Steller’s are one of those birds that you long to see because they are quite cool looking. Outside the Pileated Woodpecker (link here), this is probably the closest to looking like Woody Woodpecker in the US. Instead of the red crest, these Steller’s went for a more subdued tone with highlight features I’ll get to in a moment. I did go back and verify Woody does sport a blue toned body so that much matches (then watched way too many YouTube clips from the old cartoon as if I needed any more distractions!).

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

As much as I look forward to seeing these creatures, it doesn’t take long for you to tire of them once you make it into their region. They hang out year long in a two prong band coming down out of the northwest corner. One branch extends into New Mexico and Arizona and the other meanders partway down the west coast. Find yourself in that area and it should not be hard to encounter one. They lay claim to relying on insects, seeds, berries and other species’ eggs (like those asshats the Blue Jays). In reality they are junk food fiends that prefer to hang out in picnic areas looking for a kid to lose their grip on a Cheetos.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

This particular sighting resulted in learning something new about our blue friend that I didn’t catch in my previous sightings. If you happened to look at the second past link to the Steller’s you might notice the crown had white accents in the crest. Assumption then is that was the standard coloring. When I looked at the tins from this Lake Tahoe trip, they appeared contrary to that opinion – residents here were showing off a blue highlight. Did some research and learned that you can tell which branch the Steller’s come from – interior ones have a white striping where the coastals swap that for blue. The rest of the coloring appears to match.

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Mentioned earlier that this Jay also preys on eggs/chicks of other nests. At least it isn’t a brood parasite like those damn top of the hate list Cowbirds (link here). They do have another annoying habit. In this case, I’m lucky they are outside my home region. Cornell’s website described it perfectly “Steller’s Jays keep up a running commentary on events”. Obnoxiously chatty and sure to get on your nerves should you choose to picnic in their vicinity. “They are getting out of their car, they are getting the picnic basket out of their car, they are walking toward the picnic table, everyone is taking a plate, looks like chicken from KFC today, now pouring some water.. wait, wait, we have Kool-Aid, small child reaches into Cheetos bag, seems to be losing its grip, [moves in for a closer look], yes, gonna get me a snack, hey Woody don’t get any ideas, I have dibs on that Cheeto…” and so the play-by-play chatter goes, on and on and on and on like some Intrigued blog writer!

Steller's Jay found at Lake Tahoe in May 2019

Will end it there before I blackout – all the blood “loss” is making me a bit woozy. By “loss” I really mean held down by 5 ex-marines while extracted against my will Acid Queen from Tommy style – “guaranteed to tear [my] soul apart”.

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