Gray Jay in the NLP !

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Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby Russ Emmons » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:32 pm

Greg Bodker reported on Mich-Listers a GRAY JAY was seen & photographed near Baldwin in Lake county. More details & info to be updated ASAP.

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Re: Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby Danaduck » Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:43 am

A quick check of eBird shows me no sightings of a Gray Jay in the lower penninsula going back a century. But a check of the breeding atlas says that they still nested in the LP in the 1960s and that population density in the UP is moving further and further into the western UP.

I have only seen them one time and it was at a hunting camp in the UP when I was in college circa 1970. Yet the owner of the camp said he saw them all the time. He fed them peanuts in the shell. Very tame birds but I am not sure this is the norm.
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Re: Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby SandyLee » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:06 pm

Greg is one of our members, although hasn't stopped by lately. Will love to see pics and an update.... pretty exciting! Thanks, Russ!
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Re: Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby Brian Allen » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:54 pm

tried to post the picture here but it is too large and I don't have the time to pare it down.

Linda and Chuck Scribner went out "trolling" for this bird in the likely habitat between Baldwin and M-55 on M-37 where it might be and could not find it. I may try sometime if I can get a few hours free over the weekend.

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Re: Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby Brian Allen » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:38 pm

Tried for two and a half hours last weekend with no luck. Probably a lone wandering bird had been seen.

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Re: Gray Jay in the NLP !

Postby Brian Allen » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:38 am

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.

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