The Gray Jay

northern exposures

Moose Bird, Venison Hawk, Whiskey Jack, Canada Jay
gray-jay-0054

gray-jay-0055So many names, and here’s another – Camp Robber. I like our name best, but “Whiskey Jack” is pretty interesting as well. It’s a corruption of Wisakadjak, the name of an old, old prankster in Algonquin mythology. It is a fitting allusion since gray jays are fearless pilferers as are their blue jay cousins in Texas. They hang around camp looking for a bite of fish or moose or caribou to steal and what they don’t eat they wedge behind the bark of the spruce trees, caching it away for the bitter and lean winter months. They coat their plunder with sticky saliva that seals it in place and protects it. Actually, I am not certain they winter here in Fort Yukon because I never see them in the cold months. Perhaps we are just a bit too far north for them. They are here now, though – I took these photographs yesterday.

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