In this installment of “The Creature Feature”, the Pinyon Jay is our featured feathered friend. The Pinyon Jay is a large, entirely dull blue songbird which inhabits the lower mountain slopes of the western United States. Its preferred habitat includes pinyon/juniper forests, sagebrush, scrub oak, and occasionally pine forests. With its large pointed bill, it specializes in feeding on pine seeds which it stores thousands of each year, and miraculously remembers where it hid most of them. In fact, through studies and experiments it has been shown that mated pairs of Pinyon Jays will coordinate with each other in regards to the placement of their food caches. Being an omnivore, seeds aren’t the only item on this birds menu. Various acorns, wild berries, cultivated grains, arthropods, nestling birds, snakes, and even small mammals round out the bill. Using its large bill, it delivers swift blows to the head and neck area of its prey to render them dinner. This Jay is a rather social bird as well, and its curiosity brought it in fairly close to my shooting position. I particularly like the subdued color of the Pinyon Jay, and the fact that it blended/complimented the warm tones its environment rather nicely.
All of the photographs in this feature were made with the Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens. Canon really got this lens right. It is SO sharp at all apertures, light weight, and it even has the brilliant built-in lens hood. For closer-in shots of wildlife and birds in flight, this lens will nail the image every time. (and the Pinyon Jays were thankful it brought out their best sides as well! 🙂