The blue jay’s more formally-attired cousin, Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is British Columbia’s official provincial bird, and has become a more frequent visitor to gardens and feeders in recent months, as snapped here by Robert Hoskins.
A member of the crow family, this species was first documented by German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746). Steller was the first non-native to set foot in Alaska, as he accompanied Captain Vitus Bering on exploratory missions around the Kamchatka Peninsula in 1741. It was the sighting of this jay, and its similarity to the familiar American blue jay, that confirmed for Steller that Alaska was indeed part of the North American landmass.
Among other animals first described by Steller are Steller’s sea eagle (debatably the world’s largest eagle), Steller’s sea lion, Steller’s eider, and Steller’s sea cow- a huge sirenian similar to a manatee, eaten to extinction by sailors within 25 years of its discovery.
Happily, the jays named after him are in no such danger.