Lapland is home to a population of North Eurasian Jays, known as the Siberian Jay [Kuukkeli in Finnish]. These birds belong to the crow family and are small to medium sized with a greyish – brown plumage. The underbelly, parts of wing and tail feathers are characterized by a lighter orange. Siberian Jays are commonly seen in Lapland and if one takes a hike in the forest, they often come by with hopes of obtaining snacks from people. We have seen them on all our trips to Lapland and some have been so tame that they came to our hand.
Our recent trip to Lapland (Pyhätunturi-Saariselkä-Levi) was enriched with wildlife sightings. We spotted also a Eurasian jay, a couple of Ptarmigans on the road between Pyhä – Luosto, a red fox, a snow hare running across the road and of course reindeer. Thankfully we avoided any harm as the animals crossed safely. With the ptarmigans, it was a near miss because they froze as the car approached and breaking strongly on icy roads is not recommended. We swerved a bit and they flew off at the last moment. Phew. It was amazing to see them though, I wish there was enough time to take a photo of them.
The Siberian Jay
They arrived on the very first morning. We were taking a walk around the cottage, near the frozen lake when there was some rustling from the tree tops. It was a freezing but sunny morning and the birds came to enjoy the sunlight. An interesting observation was that they would eat some snow from time to time – to keep hydrated I guess.
They were fluffed up balls and didn’t pay much attention to us below. I tried to get photos but it wasn’t easy to hold the camera still for a close up in the cold. Went back to the cottage and though about how to attract them nearer. Food of course. Some rye bread and seed – sure way to bring the birds to the yard! Siberian Jays are similar to crows, they seem intelligent and not so afraid of humans. In Finland, these birds are known as the ‘friends of the forester’.
Here they arrive, sitting on the branches nearby and judging whether it’s safe to come near us. *click on any photo to see an image carousel and photo details.
There was a group of 3 birds hanging around. They were not so tame as to come to our hand but they came quite close and this gave me the chance to take all these photos. At one point a new visitor came by, the Eurasian Jay [Närhi in Finnish]. It was shy and shooed away by the others. Only caught a glimpse of it.
The next day they came again, to our surprise, were waiting right outside on the porch when we woke up. Decided to play some tricks with them and kept food (rye bread and oatmeal) on different surfaces like a snowy fence to see how they get it 😀 We sure saw some funny and interesting behaviour, especially in the last couple of photos.. The last photo is rather nice with one of the Jays diving in the background for some food that had fallen below.
Siberian Jay Gallery:
Hope you enjoyed these photos! It took me a whole day to edit them, even though I mainly used some darktable styles [Landscape] and basic adjustments. Cropping and selecting the good ones also takes time. Some turned out better than the rest and some had low exposure that couldn’t be corrected. The saturation is slightly increased in every photo to make the orange on the birds appear brighter 🙂 Check this post to see the photography gear I use.