Canada Jay ecology
About the Project
Canada Jay research in Algonquin Park began back in the 1960s. The late Russell J. Rutter (1899-1976), a well-known Ontario naturalist, was working in the Park and became intrigued by the birds. He decided to use a new technique called colour-banding to identify individual Canada Jays and see what he could learn of the jay’s then almost completely unknown ecology and nesting behaviour. Every jay was given its own unique combination of coloured plastic and standard aluminum bands and promptly released. From then on it could be recognized as an individual, and given a name, according to its band combination. With the use of this one simple technique and countless hours of follow-up observations, of course, Russ was able to begin the long process of sorting out the basic biology of Canada Jays. He was the first to determine that these birds lived on permanent territories, that they lived for a very long time, and that they tended to nest in the same general area, year after year.
Later, the Algonquin Canada Jay study was taken over by Dan Strickland. Since the early 1980s, Dan and volunteer helpers have been finding nests each year, banding the young, and following the fortunes of adults and young alike. Since Dan’s retirement in 2000, he has been able to devote even more time to the study, now one of the longest-running studies of a marked population of vertebrates anywhere in the world. In partnership with Dr. Ryan Norris of the University of Guelph the study of Canada Jays in Algonquin has led to new and valuable insights into their ecology and behaviour.