Posts Tagged “photoblog”
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by the magnificent steller’s jay. A group of them live in a tall conifer across a small park from my house. (Unfortunately BC Hydro contractors opened up one part of the tree while rewiring the neighbourhood so the steller’s jays in that tree may be vulnerable.) Others frequently visit (and may be living–I am not sure) in the cedar trees that mark the boundary with my neighbour’s house. So the steller’s jays are frequent visitors to the feeder on my back deck.
I’ve been photographing steller’s jays on my deck, in my backyard and in the bush around Kitimat for the past eight years. So I must have thousands of steller’s jays photos spring, summer, fall and winter for those eight years.
Friday night was a beautiful summer evening. I spotted three steller’s jays in the grass of my backyard. I grabbed a camera, stepped out and saw–and heard–something I hadn’t seen in eight years.
For my feeder I used a wildbird mixture that it is mostly sunflower seeds, maize and shelled peanuts. Although steller’s jays love peanuts I have never left out peanuts in the shell. But one of my neighbors does and I have seen from time to time a steller’s jay with a peanut in its mouth, usually on the ground before flying off into the trees.
What I saw Friday night (again Monday night) was entirely different. One steller’s jay had found a way to crack the nut case in my old rotten fence. Tonight there were two at it.
First about the fence, it’s old, probably original to the house when it was built in 1960, with parts rotting away and falling apart. I had planned to replace it this summer but then I had to pay for major car repairs. Before that it was a new roof and a new furnace.
Steller’s jays, like all corvids, are highly intelligent birds. It seems that scientists studying corvid intelligence, when they are not studying ravens and crows, concentrate on the scrub jay, which means British Columbia’s beautiful official bird doesn’t get much scientific respect with only a few university researchers looking at the bird (at least that is what I could find out in an online search.)
On Friday evening, that one steller’s jay found the perfect place to anchor a peanut in the shell. My rotten old fence.
I asked Professor Jeffrey M. Black who does study steller’s jays at Humboldt University in Arcata, California what the jays were doing:
All three jays in these photos are of juveniles; note the fluffy grey chests and behind legs, and the yellow skin at the corner of the mouth. You may have noticed them giving odd raspy juvenile type calls too. Sometimes the young jays at this age, which come to feeders with peanuts, ignore peanuts and sample the seeds instead. It seems they get ‘turned on’ to peanuts through ‘social learning’ – meaning they observer others and learn there’s food inside. Seems like the young jay in the photos was new to the task. Experienced jays seem to extract the nuts from peanut shells quite quickly with deft strikes and prying movements (unlike the young bird in the photos). I agree, the youngster seems quite clever to have pushed the nut against a crack to hold it in place before aiming blows. As for the hammering sound. I suspect that was the beak coming into contact with the wooden fence. Incidentally, hammering on wood (knock, knock, knock) seems to be a behavior used in frustration or perhaps to signal a threat during aggressive encounter.
So here is the complete sequence from 18:47:53 Friday, July 13, 2018 to 18:49:39. All images copyright Robin Rowland 2018.
The steller’s jay is wrestling with the shelled peanut.
It seems to have done quite well demolishing the shell, in a gap against the old fence post. But apparently half the peanut shell was a hard nut to crack.
The steller’s jay takes a look….
I turned away for just a few seconds, and took a shot of the jays on the grass, with corn in their beaks. While shooting the jays on the grass I heard a “knock, knock, knock” sound, looked up and saw the steller’s jay working with its beak to crack that shell which was now anchored against the fence post. Smart!
With the peanut shell firmly anchored against the wood and held tight in its feet, the steller’s jay repeatedly taps with its beak against the shell.
It keeps trying. You can see part of the shell (or perhaps the peanut) on the beak.
A bee flies by…
… as the steller’s jay pauses for a second or two.
Finally success! It has the peanut out of the shell.
It enjoys its meal.
Looks like it’s finished because…
The steller’s jay discards the peanut shell.
And flies away.
A long shot of my fence taken the next morning.
A closer view of the area that the steller’s jay used to crack the nut.
And an even closer shot showing all the possibilities for an intelligent bird to anchor a peanut.
I just happened to look tonight (Monday July 16) and the steller’s jays were back at the rotten part of the fence.
This steller’s jay was back close to the spot where the peanut was cracked on Friday night.
No sign of peanuts tonight, so it was probably looking for bugs.
This is the tree where I’ve seen the steller’s jay living for the past eight years. You can see how BC Hydro contractors cleared a whole section of the tree to install new power lines that you can also see in the image.
After the friendship pole was raised in Kitimat, the Haisla Nation hosted a feast for both communities at Kitimat’s Riverlodge Recreation Centre.
The headtable, from left to right members of the District of Kitimat Council and the Haisla Nation Council, Kitimat officials and the Haisla hereditary chiefs. (Robin Rowland)
Carver Gary Wilson was the host and master of ceremonies for the feast (Robin Rowland)
Hereditary chief Sammy Robinson (He’mas C’esi) addresses the feast. (Robin Rowland)
Cyril Grant Jr.(He’mas Sanaxaid) addresses the feast. (Robin Rowland)
A chief addresses the feast. (Robin Rowland)
A man addresses the feast on behalf of his clan. (Robin Rowland)
Spirit of Kitlope dancers (Robin Rowland)
Spirit of Kitlope Dancers (Robin Rowland)
Spirit of Kitlope Dancers (Robin Rowland)
Spirit of Kitlope Dancers (Robin Rowland)
On May 4, the Haisla Nation and the District of Kitimat raised a totem pole to mark the growing friendship between “township” and Kitamaat Village. Planning for the pole began a couple of years ago when the Haisla Nation and the people of the Kitimat township held a reconciliation forum at Riverlodge. The pole was carved over the past year under the supervision of carver Gary Wilson (‘Nagamo’o). Funding for the project came from the Canada 150 fund, the District of Kitimat and the Haisla Nation.
Before the ceremony
Haisla Nation hereditary chiefs and elders gather for the pole raising ceremony. (Robin Rowland)
Skeena Bulkley NDP MP Nathan Cullen speaks to Haisla Nation hereditary chiefs and elders before the pole raising ceremony. (Robin Rowland)
Eagle chief Cyril Grant Jr.(He’mas Sanaxaid) speaks to carver and master of ceremonies Gary Wilson (‘Nagamo’o) and Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth before the ceremony. (Robin Rowland)
Aiden Robinson speaking to her Ma’ma’o (grandmother) Rose Robinson, Sammy Robinson (He’mas C’esi) amd Basil Grant (He’mas Legaix) (Robin Rowland)
Unveiling and blessing the friendship pole
Carver Gary Wilson unveils the friendship pole. (Robin Rowland)
Sammy Robinson begins to bless the new pole, along with Gary Wilson (‘Nagamo’o), Allan Williams (He’mas Wakas), Verlie Nelson (C’esi’s spokesperson) Cyril Grant Jr.(He’mas Sanaxaid) as Harvey Grant, MP Nathan Cullen and Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth watch. (Robin Rowland)
Cedar boughs are used to cleanse the totem pole. (Robin Rowland)
Sammy Robinson He’mas C’esi and Verlie Nelson prepare the eagle down to cleanse and bless the pole. (Robin Rowland)
Cleansing and blessing the pole. (Robin Rowland)
At the pole blessing, Harvey Grant (He’mas Wiiseks), Sammy Robinson (He’mas C’esi), Nathan Cullen, Cyril Grant Jr. (He’mas Sanaxaid), Phil Germuth and Eugene Stewart (Dlaxwdlaxwaligisc Hai’mas). (Robin Rowland)
Raising the pole
Hereditary chiefs and construction workers prepare to raise the friendship pole. (Robin Rowland)
The construction workers prepare to secure the pole. (Robin Rowland)
Simon Hall (Hai’mac Gax) helps put the totem pole in place. (Robin Rowland)
Carver Gary Wilson explains the meaning of the pole. At the bottom is the snowflake, the District of Kitimat’s official symbol. The face in the middle represents the people of Kitimat with four multi-ethnic faces above it. At the top of the pole are representations of the clans of the Haisla Nation, with the eagle, the beaver in the middle, (Robin Rowland)
Eugene Stewart (Dlaxwdlaxwaligisc Hai’mas) speaks to Gary Wilson speaks as the dancing begins. (Robin Rowland)
Cyril Grant Jr. (He’mas Sanaxaid) leads the Eagle Clan dance after the pole was secured. (Robin Rowland)
People join in the dancing. (Robin Rowland)
Children from the Haisla Community School participate with drumming and dancing. (Robin Rowland)
The North Matters group held a forum, LNG Myths, Facts & Benefits in Kitimat, BC, on May 2, 2018.
Here are the portraits of the speakers.
On Thursday, April 19, was a soggy, to say the least, with wind-driven, cold, pouring rain when I went down to Kitamaat Village and Kitimat harbour to photograph the spring bird migration. The highlight were the snow geese I saw both at MK Bay (above) and at the Kitamaat Village soccer field. (Robin Rowland)
A bald eagle, drenched in the pouring rain, at the mouth of Whatl Creek near MK Bay Marina. (Robin Rowland)
A crow takes off from the sea grass in pouring rain near Kitamaat Village. (Robin Rowland)
Snow geese feed at the Kitamaat Village soccer field (Robin Rowland)
Snow geese fly past MK Bay. (Robin Rowland)
An Oregon junco on the waterfront. (Robin Rowland)
Mallards take to the wing as a bald eagle passes overhead (Robin Rowland)
A gull passes two bald eagles in the low tide puddles of Whatl Creek near Kitimat Harbour (Robin Rowland)
Two bald eagles in the low tide puddles of Whatl Creek near Kitimat Harbour (Robin Rowland)
Two bald eagles battle over a duck at Kitimat harbour. Images taken off the shoreline of Kitamaat Village.
Another bald eagle watching from above. (Robin Rowland)
Splash! The first eagle swoops down and grabs a duck (hard to see in this image) (Robin Rowland)
The second eagle heads skyward with its eye on the first (Robin Rowland)
The first eagle is heading away with his catch (Robin Rowland)
The second eagle swoops down to attack. (Robin Rowland)
But the attack is unsuccessful and the first eagle escapes with its meal still in its talons. (Robin Rowland)