‘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 1:00 p.m.
REGAL - This Gray Jay birdie was photographed by Myrna Pearman

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

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read