Whiskey Jacks a/k/a Grey Jays

Whiskey Jack a/k/a Canada or Grey Jay, The Mythological Algonquin Trickster

Whiskey Jack or Gray Jay, The Algonquin Trickster

Another great birding experience was our interaction with the Grey Jays.  Churchill has three very different ecosystems that converge there; the Hudson Bay system, the boreal forest and the tundra.  Most of our time was spent on the tundra, at the edge of the Bay but we had an opportunity to take a dogsled ride one day through the boreal forest ecosystem.  I was very excited to see what the boreal forest looked like at this latitude as I have heard so much about the degradation of the forest and its effect on nesting songbirds.  While the sled ride was fun, my greatest thrill was seeing the Grey Jays up close.   They weren’t life birds for me but very nearly so.  Here they hung around the dogsled camp begging kibble meant for the sled dogs.  The owner called them Whiskey Jacks.  I hadn’t heard this name before, always thinking of them as Canada Jays, so I looked it up.  I found that the name derives from the word Whisakadjak, the Algonquin mythological trickster.  How appropriate.  These gregarious birds begged so endearingly that we ended up taking kibble from the pail to hand feed them.  I am not surprised to learn that they cache their food, hiding it for future use, as they returned many times to eat from our hands.

Hand feeding a Grey Jay was one of this day's highlights

Hand feeding a Grey Jay was one of this day’s highlights

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