Good morning everyone on this very cold Sunday morning! Help yourself to some steaming hot coffee and relax for a few minutes with us. Inside, where it’s somewhat warm. Have you ever felt that biting, bitter cold? Like this morning. I dressed more warmly than normal to go feed the birds because when I checked the temperature my eyes popped out. That’s why the question. It was a cold -47C (-53F) out there this morning. Even though I wasn’t out there long, I still got cold. My face was burning. Apparently frostbite could happen in 3 minutes or less. I believe it.
Well, back to our friendly gray jays. We saw yesterday that they nest very early, starting with nest building in February. They are able to nest so early in the season because of the large number of food caches that they hid among the trees the previous summer and fall. And actually because they nest so early they are able to start hiding food in the spring, so that they have abundant food to eat and to feed their young during a time of year when food is amazingly scarce. Unlike other jays, these gray jays don’t eat seeds or nuts so they rely heavily on their food reserves and anything else they might be able to pick up during the winter months.
When they come to the feeder they often go for the suet, or I will put out some meat for them, I usually have some wieners on hand just for them which they take happily. They lay 2 to 5 eggs, normally 3, in a well insulated nest on the south side of a tree and usually on the north side of some clearing, lake shore, river, stream, where the female and young will get the most sunshine. The male feeds the female and the young for the first week of their lives, by then they are fully covered with feathers and the female can begin to help out with feeding. The young usually leave the nest at about 23 days and can fly well but only for short distances.
By 44 days they are flying very well and stay with the parents learning to find their own food. At about 60 days fighting begins between the siblings until the dominant one chases the others away, and that one will stay with the parents until the next spring. Gray jays mate for life, meaning they stay together until one dies, then they will take a new mate. Gray jays live longer than most birds their size and can live up to 15 years, but never leave their own territory. Young gray jays are dark gray all over and at one time were thought to be separate species. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the young in their gray outfits. By fall however they look like their parents. Well, this is just a brief look at these fascinating birds, I hope you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful Sunday and God bless!
Steve and Muffin.
©2021 Steve McLeod.