"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Steller's jay behavior - From Yosemite National Park

A Steller's jay -- Photo from Yosemite National Park

What do you think this Steller's jay is doing? According to the scientists at Yosemite National Park, it's probably allowing ants to eat the ectoparasites (like lice) off its feathers. I've seen mourning doves displaying this behavior.  Have you witnessed this in other birds? Please comment below. 

You can find Steller’s jays in evergreen forests of western North America at elevations of 3,000-10,000 feet (lower along the Pacific coast).  They frequent campgrounds, picnic areas and parks because they associate people with food. Like other members of the corvid family, they are gregarious, bold, inquisitive, intelligent and noisy.
Steller’s Jays are large songbirds with large heads, chunky bodies, rounded wings, and a long, full tail. The bill is long, straight, and powerful, with a slight hook.  Their prominent triangular crest often stands nearly straight up from their head.

Don't confuse the Steller's jay with the Western scrub jay that lives in the coastal areas of Southern California and throughout the West.

Happy Birding!


  1. Steller’s Jays are beautiful large songbirds that I have seen in Yosemite National Park before boston to washington dc tours. I have captured numerous images of this bird during the visit of this park. It’s beautiful and you have described about it beautifully. Most of the people took the images of this bird over there because of its beauty.

  2. not sure about the ants idea, since i have seen jays do this and there were no ants near by and it was always in the dirt and sun. i have not been able to capture a good image or any video of this, but i have seen it several time from the group of jay i have been observing for the last few years.