Friday, November 20, 2009

Gray Jays in the Sax Zim Bog

Well it is almost that time of year again. Back in October it looked like we were going to have a long cold snowy winter, with several early days of snow, but in November things have turned around. We have had a good string of mild weather and no snow.
The nice weather can not last forever though. Sooner or later the air will get colder and the snow will come. It is November after all and in Minnesota that usually means the beginning of winter. Even though it can some times get quite unpleasant here in Minnesota in the winter time, unless you enjoy temps below zero and wind chills that can almost freeze the air inside your lungs, it is actually a great place to do some winter birding.One of the premiere winter birding location in Minnesota is the Sax Zim Bog. The bog is an area located around the very small towns of Sax and Zim. This area is a magnet for species that come down from Canada in search of food. One species that is usually pretty easy to find in the bog during the winter is the gray jay.
Gray jays are not commonly found in the lower 48 states except in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the north east coastal states and in the Rocky Mountains. We usually only see them during the winter time in the northern part of the state especially in Sax Zim. One reason for this may be because these birds often cache food the in nooks and crannies of trees using their saliva to help it stick. They are omnivores so caching food in colder climates help to preserve food that might go bad.
Gray jays are members of the Corvidae family which includes jays, crows and ravens. Birds in this family typically have a higher intelligence then many other types of birds. The gray jay is no exception, they are very curious and are often referred to as a camp robber because of their habit of relieving campers of excess food and other items. Sometimes you find a cousin or two hanging around trying to look cool, like this blue jay.

If you are interested in seeing gray jays then you should consider the Sax Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival which will be held in February. I have been to the festival for the past two years, it is only two years old, and have come away with some marvelous pics. You can see some in the current slide show located in the side bar. You can also find a link to more information on the festival right below the slide show in the side bar.

12 comments:

madcobug said...

Great pictures but I bet those birds get really cold in all that snow. You would think their feet and toes would freeze off. We don't have the Grey Jays here but we have the larger Blue Jays. Loud buggers at times. They do warn the other birds if a hawk comes around. Helen

eileeninmd said...

Great post on the Gray Jays. They are neat birds to see, I added them to my lifer list during my trip to Wyoming and Utah. Great photos.

Teena in Toronto said...

The snow is a great background for them!

I played too :)

Maria said...

Great shots!

~ Kathy ~ said...

very pretty...love the snow in the background!

We love Luna said...

Well done, fabulous post and your pictures are excellent, beautiful birds!
purrs, love and happy camera critters
Luna

Joy said...

Great photos! They are beautiful.

squirrel said...

Beautiful. I have not see then YET. But I will some day. Interesting write up. Thanks

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Wonderful bird photos, we have not had any snow in Iowa yet. The festival looks like a great time.

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for all the information about Gray Jays! In the Netherlands we have the blue and beige kind of jay. Thanks also for visiting.

Brooks Rownd said...

Zim is the only place I've ever seen a gray jay, and sadly only from a distance. When I retire in Duluth that will change! :)

bathmate said...

I liked it.
Bathmate