A Mountain Visitor

Anyone who has traveled through the mountains of Western North America has likely encountered Steller's jays.  Represented by several subspecies, these conspicuous birds are adorned with a black head and crest, contrasting with the blue plumage of their body and wings.  Their loud, raucous calls often bring attention to their presence.

Along the Colorado Front Range, Steller's jays are common residents of subalpine forests across the mountains and of the ponderosa pine-Douglas fir woodlands of the upper foothills.  While they are occasionally observed along the base of the foothills, these noisy omnivores seldom venture onto the adjacent Piedmont except when heavy winter snows blanket the higher terrain.

Yesterday, a lone Steller's jay appeared on our Littleton farm, feeding with a group of blue jays; he was the first to turn up here during the non-winter months.  Perhaps the first mountain snows of the season forced him down or maybe he's just an adventurous individual.  Whatever the cause for his visit, he was more than welcome, reminding me that attentive naturalists are often rewarded with unexpected sightings.