additional comments on the Gray Jay reported somewhere along M-37 in Lake County between Baldwin and M-55.
I searched the area and played calls of the Gray Jay in any of what I thought was appropriate habitat. There is no excellent habitat in the entire stretch only a limited area of thick Jack Pine in one stretch north of the Little Manistee River and an area of Cedar Swamp near the Manistee River. Gray Jays in Michigan are usually found in dense Spruce/Fir/Cedar or Jack Pine (less commonly) habitat.
I had loads of Blue Jays coming in to check out the call but no Gray Jay. Again I suspect if the sighting did occur in this area it was probably of a lone wandering bird that may have found some road kill to feed on. I did not see any road kill in the area when I was there last Saturday morning. I had clear skies, no wind, otherwise an excellent day to do what I was trying to do.
Gray Jays according to Burrow's Birds of Michigan, were common as far south as the Grand River/Saginaw River in the 1800's then as far south as Mt. Pleasant in the early 1900's when the book was published. The account states that Gray Jays are familiar birds often bothering lumbermen and hunters in the NLP. Deforestation and climate change have been blamed for the birds retreat to a few areas of the UP. I also feel that the increase in numbers of scavenger mammals including Red Squirrels, Raccoons, and Opossums
have made it impossible for Gray Jays to survive in the NLP as the Jays depend on food caches made and utilized over the winter to survive. If it is too warm the caches rot and I would suppose that an increase in the population of scavengers (due to the increase in people, bird feeders, garbage etc.) would make it likely their food caches would be raided and depleted.
If anyone knows more about this I'd love to hear about it.