Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

This fine specimen of Cyanocitta cristata had a life-ending encounter with my family room sliding glass door. While not the most enjoyable modeling session for the subject, these ornithological life ending tragedies provide the photographer or artist with the opportunity for close study and reproduction efforts that field work cannot match-not even with a 300mm lens. Audubon shot and ate his captured birds, following painting or drawing them, but I cannot imagine getting too excited about a gourmet offering of Blue Jay.  The bird migration in the Western UP has been nothing short of superb this year. White Crowned and White Throated Sparrows have been abundant, with two sightings of the Harris Sparrow, which should not be in my area. This is our largest Sparrow at nearly eight inches and was quite a thrill to see (one male and one female so far). Species drift out of normal migration patterns for a host of reasons, providing a rare opportunity to see birds that otherwise would require travel. In following the UP birders email list, I see others in the UP have had sightings as well. To see a sparrow that is nearly as large as a Robin, is quite a thrill. The Juncos are here, in addition to Snow Buntings, which while photographing on Lake Superior this weekend at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, were making their presence known. They bring back memories of previous winters here, when they scatter across the roadside, when walking or approaching in the jeep, white and tawny brown coloring marking their unique identity.