In July, 1741, Georg Wilhelm Steller set foot on land later known as Alaska, the first European to do so. Steller was a German naturalist on the St. Peter, a Russian ship exploring the Bering Sea. He was shipwrecked on Bering Island for over a year, and later wrote a book about the creatures that lived on the island. Many were ultimately named for this adventurous and feisty German, including this Steller's Sea Eagle, the Steller's Jay, and the Steller's Eider.
Adapted from a script by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Steller’s Jay calling]
This loud, raucous call belongs to a common jay of the Western states, the Steller’s Jay.
[Steller’s Jay calling]
You might mistakenly call this bird a Blue Jay, seeing its bright cobalt-blue body. But when the Steller’s Jay was first discovered, the name “Blue Jay” had already been assigned to a different species of jay living in the Eastern United States
You might guess that the word “Steller” describes an exceptional jay, [Steller’s Jay scolding] but Steller, spelled s-t-e-l-l-E-r, comes instead from a man’s name.
It was back in July of 1741 that Georg Wilhelm Steller, the first European to set foot on land later known as Alaska, first sighted this jay. Steller was a German naturalist on the St. Peter, a Russian ship exploring the Bering Sea.
[Waves and creaking of a ship]
Shortly after finding and describing this jay, Steller was shipwrecked on Bering Island for over a year.
Steller wrote a book about the creatures that lived on the island. Many were later named for this adventurous and feisty German, among them the Steller’s Sea Eagle and the Steller’s Eider.
There’s more information about the Steller’s Jay [Steller’s Jay calling] — and all the other birds named for Steller — on our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, presenting its new “Bird Photography” online course, featuring Melissa Groo. Learn more at academy.allaboutbirds.org.
Sounds of the Steller’s Jay provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call recorded by L.J. Peyton, scold by W.W.H. Gunn.
Ambient sounds provided by Kessler Production
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org July 2017/2020 Narrator: Mary McCann