‘Gray Jay’ live stream an exciting first for naturalists

A webfeed based on a Gray Jay nest near Caroline, Alta. has garnered national attention.

  • Apr. 8, 2017 6:00 p.m.

REGAL - This Gray Jay birdie was photographed by Myrna Pearman

BY KALISHA MENDONSA

Bird enthusiasts around the country are eagerly eyeing an Ellis Bird Farm live webfeed, due to to the rarity of the birds featured.

Gray Jays are an elusive species that have fascinated naturalists for years.

For what could be the first time, enthusiasts can catch the spawns and nesting habits of these precious birds recently nominated as Canada’s national bird by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society  live through a streaming webcam.

Myrna Pearman, an author and biologist at Ellis Bird Farm, has said this is an amazing occasion that is bringing national eyes to the stream.

“This is the first time in history that the nesting activities of these birds can be fully documented,” Pearman said, brimming with excitement.

“To make it even more exciting, in honour of them being nominated for Canada’s national bird and it being our 150th year of celebration, we have named them after the royal couple they are Elizabeth and Philip Gray Jay.”

She said perhaps the most exciting part of this discovery is the fact that the world’s most renowned authority on Gray Jays, Dan Strickland, has contacted her with praise of the amazing research opportunities this webcam has presented.

“These birds are so difficult to study and having this stream full-time on the nest will provide a tremendous amount of information on their nesting period. We’re working with (Strickland) to set up our facility to record and stream, which is difficult, but we’re going to make it work. We’re going to have it stream from now until the young fledglings,” Pearman said.

“This is just such great news. Strickland has been very, very helpful and has offered his way in anything he can do to help us.”

Gray Jays are notoriously hard to document for a number of reasons, the first being that they tend to be quite secretive.

Secondly, they are Boreal Forest birds, meaning they are often hidden deep in thrush and trees. Third, they tend to nest quite high up in the trees.

Pearman was notified by a couple who live near Caroline that they may have discovered a Gray Jay nest on their land. When she travelled out to the couple’s home, she realized that there was indeed a nest, only two metres off the ground a rare sight, and an extraordinary opportunity to research the birds.

Pearman returned to Ellis Bird Farm to assemble a team, including their tech-specialist who has designed a number of cameras for live-streaming uses.

“On the 18th of March, we took a team from the Bird Farm and went to the nest. We wanted to be careful about not disturbing the birds, but we knew they were almost finished building the nest. We know that once a pair of birds has almost completed nest building, they are usually committed to it, and not likely to abandon,” she explained.

The team rigged a camera and Internet connection to the tree where the Jays had nested, and to the the team’s delight, the birds seemed indifferent to the cameras.

From there, history began as viewers around the world were able to watch the nesting and egg-incubation habits of these elusive birds.

Pearman said there is great excitement and anticipation of the possibilities of studying these birds.

Currently, the birds are incubating their newly-laid eggs, which viewers will be able to follow through their young lives.

“The eggs incubate for about 18 or 19 days, and from the day they’ve been laid, it’s exciting to say we should have Easter bunnies and Easter jays,” Pearman said.

The event is historic among naturalists, as it is a never-before-seen insight into the habits of the Gray Jays.

“I think the webcams have provided a window into the world of nature that was never available before. It gives us researchers, naturalists and the public at large this unbelievable opportunity to watch nature transpire in front of us in a non-invasive way,” Pearman remarked.

The live stream is here: Gray Jay Ellis Bird Farm Live Web Stream.

kmendonsa@lacombeexpress.com

 

Just Posted

Stettler County campground broken into Nov. 13

Stettler RCMP looking for two suspects in B&E investigation

House fire blazes in Stettler Nov. 16

Stettler Fire Rescue responded to a house fire Nov. 16 at 72 St & 50 Ave. (Gregory Sylvester photo)

Stettler RCMP look for man who may have damaged power lines

Trailer hit overhead lines at Stettler service station in October

One man charged after Stettler RCMP answer stolen vehicle complaint

27 year old Jyles Uschenko is facing multiple charges

Semi collides with vehicle on Highway 2

Members of the Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit dealt with a call on Highway 2 north of Ponoka

‘The Man We Never Knew’ Nov. 11 in Stettler

‘The Man We Never Knew’ was recited Nov. 11 while poppies rained down on the cenotaph.

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

Media gets hands-on training with the Canadian military

Black Press reporter Kendra Wong goes ‘undercover’ in Victoria to learn how to be the best she can be

Bank of Canada cautious of future rate hikes

The Bank of Canada remains cautious on future rate hikes due to low- inflation risk

London theatre received allegations against Kevin Spacey

The theatre said Thursday the 20 allegations deal with incidents between 1995 and 2013.

Da Vinci’s Christ painting sells for record $450M

The painting, “Salvator Mundi,” Latin for “Savior of the World,” is one a few paintings by Leonardo known to exist

Loblaws closing 22 stores, launching home delivery ahead of ‘difficult year’

“We are excited about our future. But…we expect 2018 will be a difficult year,” said Galen G. Weston, Loblaw CEO.

Ban moves ahead in B.C. against same real estate agent for buyer and seller

New real estate consumer protection rules to take effect in March

Most Read