A flutter of wings announced their arrival. Three Canada jays landed in a pine tree beside the gravel road.
“In Maine, they’re by far the boldest [bird],” bird expert and BDN columnist Bob Duchesne would later tell me. “It doesn’t take them long to catch on and learn from each other. They’ll come right to the breakfast table expecting a handout at campgrounds.”
On that crisp, overcast morning of Oct. 25, I didn’t know that bit of information. As I stood on the logging road southwest of Baxter State Park with my hiking companions — Betty, Wanda, Kris and Kris’s dog, Leia — all I knew about Canada jays is that they live in northern Maine. I’d seen them a few times while camping, but I’d never managed to capture a good photo.
So as the jays hopped from branch to branch, I fumbled with my camera, silently cursing as I realized that it was on the wrong settings. Seconds ticked past as I pressed buttons and turned dials. I expected the birds to fly away at any moment, but when I looked up, they were still there, right in front of me.
I photographed the closest jay, which appeared to be studying me with its round dark eyes. It tilted its head this way and that, then hopped, disappearing from the window of my lens. I lowered my camera, and there the bird was — just a few feet away — clinging to low branch of the tree. Its body was nearly upside down as it craned its neck, inspecting me closely.
Aislinn Sarnacki is the BDN Act Out editor, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram:...
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