A Canada jay rides on a moose's back in this trail camera photo. Credit: Courtesy of Eric Ward

My first encounter with a Canada jay came during a bear hunt several years ago, when the friendly bird flew directly at my head, then perched on a branch that was just over my right shoulder.

There it sat, for about a half an hour.

When I told my guide the story, he chuckled. “Gorby,” he said, using one of several nicknames for the species. “Great birds.”

Yes, they are. And today, Eric Ward checks in with an awesome trail camera photo that illustrates how laid-back the birds can be. This one is happily perched on a moose’s back, riding through the forest north of Golden Road in north-central Maine.

“Here’s a shot of a Gorby on a bull moose in the spring. I guess there’s a reason why they are also called moose birds,” Ward said. “[The bird] could also be after ticks.”

Other names for the Canada jay: Meat bird, gray jay and whiskey jack.

According to the Cornell Lab, Canada jays are quite common in these parts.

“The deceptively cute Canada jay is one of the most intrepid birds in North America, living in northern forests year-round and rearing chicks in the dark of winter, ” the Cornell Lab said on its Canada jay species page. “Highly curious and always on the lookout for food, Canada jays eat just about anything, from berries to small animals. They may even land on your hand to grab a raisin or peanut. During summer they hoard food in trees to sustain themselves through bleak winters.”

And sometimes, they ride on the backs of moose.

Do you have a trail camera photo or video to share? Send it to jholyoke@bangordailynews.com and tell us “I consent to the BDN using my photo.” In order to prevent neighbors from stopping by to try to tag particularly large bucks, moose or bears, some identities and towns of origin may be omitted.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...