In the old days, Siberian Jay was called ”soul bird”, as the soul of a dead hunter was thought to move to a Siberian Jay. The species is a sedentary bird in the northern Boreal forests or taiga, and it is extremely rare that it would move more than 10 kilometres from its territory. In recent years, the Siberian Jay populations have declined especially in Southern Finland, and in the most recent conservation status assessment the species is listed as near threatened. Currently, there are some 40 000 – 80 000 Siberian Jay pairs breeding in Finland.
The Siberian Jay is faithful to its mate, and it will start breeding in early spring, often while there is still snow on the ground. The bird makes its nest warm by insulating it with beard lichen and feathers. The chicks of previous summer may help a Siberian Jay pair to nest, and the species can even adopt chicks from other pairs. This kind of behaviour is extremely rare with birds. In the autumn, the Siberian Jay stores food for the winter for example by hiding mushrooms in spruces covered with beard lichen. In midwinter, Siberian Jay moves very little, and they seem to be curious about those who move in the forest. On the rest areas of the ski paths in Lapland the Siberian Jay may gather in dozens to get food even from the hands of humans. The Siberian Jay is a long-lived species. According to ringing data, the oldest Siberian Jay found in Finland was over 13 years old.
Text: Jukka Jokimäki & Marja-Liisa Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki
Read more about Siberian Jay:
Flying Arctic -frontpage.