Imagine my surprise when the inbox blazed with an email proclaiming that Montana’s 2nd confirmed Western Scrub-jay was present at a feeder in Thompson Falls, which is in the northwestern part of the state, of all places. I had always imagine that this species would destined to make its appearance in the southwestern corner of state or in the Pryor Mountains region.
The jay was in the yard of a birder who has keenly observed this bird, the ever-present Blue Jay, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and a Tufted Duck near his home. Without him, the statewide birding community would missed all of these incredible finds.
I arrived at the site just after dawn. That initial aching feeling of missing a target bird when I first venture out to see one was creeping up on me. This notion was quickly dispelled as the Western Scrub-jay and its Blue Jay competitor flew into a tree overhead. I shook hands with the birder, and he quickly ushered me into the basement, which serves as a blind, complete with burlap screen, for his feeders in the backyard. The yard is a splendid setup for attracting birds with many feeders and a very nice pond with a water drip.
Both of the jays were particularly attracted to the peanuts that were set out on a thick piece of ponderosa pine bark. They would invariably fly down from a large pine to within a few feet of there intended food. From there they would hop into the bark, quickly select a peanut, and take it up into the pine or beyond for a bit of private dining.