About a month ago I visited Algonquin Park for the very first time ever in my life. Angie and I were taken up there by some friends of ours who are familiar with the area. We had a mission for this trip and that was to find and experience the presence of Grey Jays nicknamed "Whiskey Jacks" or "Camp Robbers".
I heard the stories of these birds, and while I believed them, it is nothing compared to actually seeing them in person. A mid-sized bird with a seemingly fearless attitude who will raid campsites, picnic sites, etc and steal the food of the people on site. Bold enough to fly right into the palm of a person's hand for some grub too!
While they aren't the most vibrant colored bird in the area; they still are quite a fine looking species.
We could have easily spent the whole day in this one spot and playing with the Jays.
The photo below is my favorite shot from the afternoon. I do love the hand shots but this one is just right for what I wanted to capture.
If you notice in the shots, they are all banded (colored bands on the legs). The birds are wild but they are heavily researched. The banding is for tracking and ID'ing the birds.
One of the reasons, or perhaps this has been discovered with the research so far is that the Grey Jays are declining in numbers along the most southern points of their range. The longer summers and autumns are to blame. The Jays are hoarders and rely upon the cold weather to act as a refrigerant and keep their food. So, while the weather stays warmer longer, their stored food rots much faster. It's lead to less successful breeding. It might be a decade or less and Grey Jays will be a rare sighting or perhaps not seen in places like Algonquin Park. Sad for us since this is a 3 hour drive on a good day to get to this spot... and since it's a winter spot for the birds, traveling up there, weather is often an issue.
It was +8c that afternoon. Toronto was really enjoying the spring like temperatures and lots of sun that week. I remember it well as I was on vacation. But, Algonquin had snow already.
We had another first sighting that afternoon... a Black Backed Woodpecker! They look alot like our Downys but the back is a mostly solid black color. We were treated with a good 5 minutes of watching him on this tree. Photography was not easy in the dense woods. I stayed well back because I didn't want to frighten him off. Not a bad shot though.
We picnic'd at this spot. The water was unbelievably calm! The sun felt so nice as it beamed down upon us.
Of course lots of Black-capped Chickadees were present. Always a treat since they are quite comfortable diving in for some grub too.
Deep in the woods we heard the Boreal Chickadees. We sorta saw them way up in the trees, buzzing back and forth. I hope on our next visit we might get a good visual of them... and maybe a photograph or two. With that being said, I did not take this last photo and borrowed it from Google Images.
I wonder who else out there reading this has experienced the fun of hanging out with those Grey Jays?