What’s This? No. 17

whatsthis17-550xOn Darwin’s Birthday today, which is Darwin Day, my What’s This? challenge returns from a long vacation. This one I photographed in northern Vermont on 1 February 2014. Name it and win fame, recognition here on the blog and $5 off any of my outings or workshops. This organism has no direct Darwin link – at least nothing more noteworthy than the usual Charles Darwin relevance to all life on Earth. Enter in the comments section below. I’ll post an answer later today or Thursday morning. Here you’ll find other What’s This? challenges.

February 13: We have a winner. Dan Lambert was first to recognize this as a Gray Jay. We’re seeing the nape, mantle (upper back), some of the scapulars (“shoulder”) and a few of the flight feathers. Lots of folks called this a Bald Eagle. That’s a reasonable guess based on the white neck and dark body. But the position of the folded wing so close to the nape and the relative length of the inner wing feathers (tertials) and coverts make this a songbird rather than an eagle. An adult bald eagle would also shore more of a “spiked mane” where its white head feathers meet the body. Nice work, Dan. Other folks getting this right are listed in comments below.

Gray Jays float like ghosts through boreal woods. Known locally as “Camp Robbers,” they’ll often take food from your hand. And they are hoarders, caching food by coating it with sticky saliva and then attaching it to trees where it freezes in place. I photographed this Gray Jay in Wenlock Wildlife Management Area near Moose Bog in Ferdinand, Vermont.

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