|"Stellar's Jay Summer" Colored Pencil|
Perched within a coniferous forest, a solitary Stellar's Jay contemplates its familiar surroundings. Unassuming and reticent near home, this intelligent bird takes on a much different public persona.
When on the quest for food, it reveals itself by squawking boisterously. Now bold and confident, the Stellar's Jay will bully the smaller birds away from its favorite feeding areas.
This bird can become one of the forest's more raucous, year-round residents. While hiking through its territory, I've often found myself on the receiving end of an unprovoked scolding.
The Stellar’s Jay’s striking appearance reflects its obnoxious behavior. Its blue plumage is accented by dark bars of color, creating an interesting pattern on the wings and tail.
An unkempt tussle of feathers adorns the bird's head. From this distinct crest, a beautiful gradient of indigo blue blends down through the crown and chest into the cerulean coloring of the body.
This Rocky Mountain native shows a great deal of regional variation throughout its range. The jays in our foothills are distinguished by white facial steaks that define the black eyes and beak.
Stellar's Jays have found their niche in the Subalpine zone between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. I frequently see them in the trees on Bergen Peak, especially in the transition area where forest meets meadow.
These birds symbolize intelligence and because it is thought that they mate for life, fidelity. Christian tradition also uses the bird to symbolize the human soul representing joy and goodness.