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Photo Study: Gray Jays in Algonquin Provincial Park

Alex Lamoreaux|

Back in mid-February, I joined a group of birders from the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology on a trip to Ontario. Our main destination was Algonquin Provincial Park, a massive park that encompasses thousands of acres of boreal forest and scattered lakes and ponds. Here, even in the dead of winter, birds manage to find a way to persist on limited resources and in extreme cold.

Perhaps one of the most cold-hardy and also most anticipated species of our trip was the Gray Jay. We encountered our first group of Gray Jays along Opeongo Rd on our first morning in the park. The Gray Jays were very curious and quickly came in to the edge of the road to investigate the group of birders from PA, and were eager to fly down to our hands for bits of crackers. As we stood there freezing (my beard was honestly covered in ice) and watching the jays, it was hard to imagine how the birds not only survive the bitter cold but also prefer to nest and raise young in the sub-zero temperatures of the Canadian winter. However, as you can see from the photos below, Gray Jays are built for the cold weather with thick, insulating feathers covering their entire body and even their nostrils. For more life history information and cool facts about this fascinating species, visit this link.

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Gray Jay – note the pink and green leg bands on this bird (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

About the Author

Alex Lamoreaux

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Alex Lamoreaux has been an avid birder and naturalist since he was a youngster, growing up exploring the farmland and Appalachian ridges near Hershey, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University, studying wildlife biology. Alex has traveled extensively throughout North America, Central America, and South Africa and is a freelance nature tour guide, field biologist, and wildlife photographer. Alex has worked on wildlife research projects ranging from Whimbrel migration along the coast of Virginia to Yellow-billed Cuckoo nesting in the desert southwest. He has been the migration counter at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory for the past two fall seasons, documenting the massive visible migration of raptors and songbirds along Lake Superior. Alex loves to share his knowledge of nature, and strives to bring the birding community together to share in the fun that studying birds and wildlife has to offer. He has helped to organize and coordinate birding events in his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond. Contact Info Alex Lamoreaux aslamoreaux@gmail.com (717) 943-7086