[Mystery bird] Gray Jay, Perisoreus canadensis, photographed during a snowstorm on Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, Olympic Peninsula, Washington [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Image: Lee Rentz, March 2009.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Rick Wright, Managing Director of WINGS Birding Tours Worldwide, writes:
A big fluffy gray bird in the north woods is almost certainly a Gray Jay. Even from this angle, we can see the contrasting dark cap that confirms our initial identification.
But which Gray Jay? This bird’s crown seems to be extensively dark, with the pale area restricted to the forehead. That suggests that the subspecies involved here is the aptly named obscurus, until just 75 years ago often treated as a separate species, Oregon Jay.
Oregon Jay is just one of very many English names that have been attached to this bird over the years. My favorite: whisky jack, which has nothing to do with intoxicating beverages; it’s instead the folk etymology of a native name for the bird, roughly transliterated “whiskey john.” That name apparently meant something like “forgeworker,” in reference to the bird’s sooty plumage.