Look for signs of these species on your next hike.
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This month's Niagara Escarpment species:
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) - Loud Mouth of the Forest
Photo: : Brian Popelier (2017)
Did You Know?
The name is derived from their noisy antics and they are also called Jaybirds.
They are in the same family as Crows.
They have strange migration patterns, sometimes migrating and sometime not.
Habitat - Occupies a variety of habitats from deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests to urban parks and backyards.
Size - These birds average between 22-30 cm in length, with a 34-43 cm wingspan. They weigh approximately 70-100 grams.
Range - Found in eastern and central United States and the southern parts of the Canadian provinces from Alberta to Newfoundland.
Status - S5 - Common and stable in Canada and Ontario.
Diet - Insects, nuts, seeds, berries, other birds eggs and small vertebrates.
Photo: Wikipedia MDF Own work
A large songbird with its distinguishing blue colour on the back, head and tail. Black and white also appear in lesser amounts on the upper surfaces and the underparts are white. They have a feathered crest atop the head and males and females are very hard to tell apart. They make a variety of sounds but the most common is a loud "jeer".
One of their favorite foods is acorns and it is thought that they are a large reason for the spread of Oak trees after the last glacial period.
Blue pigment is unknown in birds so the striking colour we see in the feathers is actually a refraction or distortion of light by the inner structure of the feather.
They have been known to grab ants with their beaks and rub them onto the surface of their feathers. This is called "Anting". This happens most often during moulting and it is thought that perhaps the process of changing feathers irritates the skin and the ants contain a form of soothing material.
Blue Jays on the Niagara Escarpment
These birds are present year-round along the entire length of the trail. Look for a flash of blue as you hike the trail or listen for their loud calls and chattering. The Bruce Trail Conservancy is continually acquiring and protecting forests and wooded areas along the Niagara Escarpment providing perfect habitat for these birds during their entire life.