Bird watching and politics: Steller’s jay
Self-tutoring about provincial identity: the tutor mentions an issue about the noble Steller’s jay.
I recently realized that the Steller’s jay is our provincial bird here in BC. To quote John Lennon, “I ain’t too surprised.”
After moving to BC in 1986, I noticed Steller’s jays pretty soon. I could tell they were jays, having seen other kinds. Steller’s jays are big, bold, loud birds that take the stage when they’re present, and they have a striking appearance. Moreover, they’re here year-round. Naturally, it’s tempting to choose the Steller’s jay as BC’s provincial bird.
Yet, here’s an issue (but likely not an election issue): according to my reading, while the Steller’s jay inhabits most of BC, it doesn’t live everywhere within. I’ve no eyes on the ground in the places I will mention, but only range maps to go by.
The Steller’s jay apparently lives throughout the warm southern half of BC, including Haida Gwaii. The maps suggest to me it lives in Prince George, but not Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, or Fort Nelson.
So what to do if you’re a loyal BC resident of Dawson Creek, for instance, so can’t encounter our provincial bird because it only lives south? It definitely brings up the issue that the isolated north of BC seems almost forgotten at times.
BC is so vast and varied, it’s like two provinces. Perhaps, therefore, we need two provincial birds: the loyal Steller’s jay, a year-round southern resident, and for the north, the boreal owl.
Hoar, DeSmet, et al. Birds of Canada. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing, 2010.Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.