"Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner"

Steller’s Jay

        Our family planned a reunion for July. We wanted to go camping where the days would be tolerable and the nights cool. Our Granddaughter scanned all the parks and forests within a 50-mile radius of St. George that might fit the criteria, and we came up with Pinevalley. Some had never been to Pinevalley and there was a lot of steller's jaynegative speculation as the newcomers drove past mountains covered with Sagebrush, Pinyon and Juniper trees. Then on the last leg of the journey, wide green meadows and tall Ponderosa Pines came into view. The drive to the campgrounds was unbelievable! Wooded streams, a reservoir, and a magnificent Pine and Fir forest. Things looked great, but where would we find our ‘first-come first-served’ campsites? A most helpful Campground Host came to our rescue and found us campsites at North Juniper with large trees, a stream flowing by, and birdlife everywhere. Wow!

        When there is a family reunion and picnic tables loaded three times a day, Campground Clowns are certain to show up in your camping area. The Steller’s Jay is the clown I’m talking about, because it is he who associates people with food and makes sure he finds you when dinner, breakfast, and lunch are being served. Steller’s Jays were everywhere: on branches, on the ground, near the water, watching our every move. One Steller’s Jay ran straight up a large pine tree and then peeked around the trunk at us and dinner. Some Jays flew overhead while others stayed at their assigned post watching for any bits of food they could make off with.

        My Son cooked dutch-oven potatoes the second morning and after everyone was served he filled his plate, sat on a large rock, set the plate beside him on that rock while he reached for something and zipppo – one of the birds flew right to his plate, invited himself to dinner, and started eating with the group.

        The Steller’s Jays are highly intelligent, extremely beautiful, and with friendly antics and songs of ‘shaack, shaack, shaack, shooka, shooka’, they make friends immediately. They are omnivores and their diet consists of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, invertebrates, small rodents, reptiles, pancakes, sausage, and dutch-oven potatoes. This Jay is quick to take advantage of new food sources and to cache any excess.

        If you decide you want some cool days and nights, go to Pinevalley. Be sure to take along binoculars, a good sense of humor, and see if you can guess who’s coming to your dinner.

        The Steller’s Jay was drawn by J.L. Crawford. J.L. is a long time Birder, Author, Naturalist from Zion, and Artist. Thank you J. L. Crawford. We love your drawing. Remember, for more information about birds, call the Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996.

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