Last week, two other birders and I ventured to northern Oxford County in search of boreal birds. I'd hoped to encounter a variety of finches (White-winged and Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, etc.) as I did last February when I visited the same area during my 2016 Maine Big Year. But as it turns out, this year's trip featured far fewer finches -- only two American Goldfinches and a flock of 12+ Pine Grosbeaks -- and was instead highlighted by Gray Jays, seen at 3 different spots along Route 16.
Gray Jays live year-round in parts of northern New England, where they nest notably earlier in the year than most other birds of the boreal forest. Incubation often starts before the first day of spring.
Like Blue Jays, Gray Jays are opportunistic omnivores whose diet includes insects, fruits, nuts, small mammals and birds, and carrion. They're also known to help themselves to food left unattended by hikers and campers, and in some places they'll even eat food right out of people's hands.
Adults (above) are largely gray and white, with a long tail and a rounded head with a partial black cap. Juvenile birds (below) are dark gray overall. To learn more about Gray Jays, visit All About Birds.