Woke up last Saturday morning to a Steller's Jay at my kitchen window. Very friendly. I stepped closer to the window and the guy hopped onto the widow sill, looking at me looking at her. There was some old bread on the counter so I walked out onto the deck to give the bread to the birds. As I stepped out onto the deck the little guy hopped up on the hand rail right next to me. It was a juvenile Steller's. I offered up some bread but that didn't go over too well. She took a piece and then dropped it. I reached over to the feeder and took out some seed and before I could turn around the guy was on my arm then she was in my hand with the seed. After taking a few seeds and then a peanut she flew into the tree next to the deck to break apart the nut. I figured that she would like peanuts so I went to the back deck and got a hand full of nuts. Within seconds on stepping out onto the kitchen deck the guy hopped back on my arm, looked that the nuts, and then carefully selected one. Then she hopped up on my shoulder and tried to hide the nut in my ear. I said hey and she stopped but then proceeded to try to break the nut apart on the back of my head. This went on for about 10 minutes: Big smiles. During one of her trips to the tree, I got my camera to take a few shots.
The sun was just rising above the east ridge of the valley and you can see the morning light highlighting the right side of the bird. You can also see the west ridge in her eye. The morning was clear but with it being so early the ISO reach the 1600 limit for a shutter speed of 1/800s and setting the aperture to f/5.6. I was so close that I had to back up to get her in focus. I turned this into an opportunity to create portraits where you can really see the expressions and the details in the plumage.
I didn't identify the guy as an immature until the images hit my computer. Notice the pink at the base of the bill and how fresh the plumage is especially on the breast. If this was an adult the feathers would have shown wear from the long breeding season. The Steller's Jay is named after the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, the first European to record them in 1741. In September 1740, Steller sailed around the Kamchatka Peninsula with Captain Bering and his two expeditionary vessels then up to Avacha Bay on the Pacific coast. After considerable time lost, the crew turned northeast and made landfall in Alaska at Kayak Island on Monday 20 July 1741. Bering wanted to stay only long enough to take on fresh water but Steller argued with the Captain to give him more time for land exploration and was granted 10 hours. Steller was the first non-native to set foot upon Alaskan soil and during his time on land he was able to describe a number of North American plants and animals, including the Steller's Jay.
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