20 July 2011

Steller Anniversary

Today is the 270th anniversary of Georg Wilhelm Steller documenting one of my favorite birds.

On July 20, 1741, Steller, as part of Vitus Bering's Second Kamchatka Expedition, landed on Kayak Island in Alaska. He convinced Bering to stay longer than the captain had intended, and while there, he became the first European naturalist to record the existence of the Steller's jay.

I used to think blue jays were prettier and wished they lived where I did, but I have grown to prefer the Steller's jay. The Steller's jay has subtler coloring than the blue jay, and that is where its beauty lies. I love how the blue blends to black toward the bird's head, and the placement of the stripes above the eyes is a nice finishing touch. Of course, the Steller's jay also possesses the attitude, wiliness, and raucousness common to jays, so it has a big personality.

Steller's jays have a wide range, but to me, they are definitely a symbol of the Pacific Northwest. It's great to be called out by one of them as I walk through a forest. It always brings a smile to my face.

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