Camp Robbers in Steamboat Springs, CO
No, not those kind of robbers, we just don’t have a lot of them here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’m talking about Camp Robbers. The kind of Camp Robbers that you meet on the chairlift on Steamboat Springs Ski Area.
Camp Robbers – they are birds we know and love in the Rocky Mountains. They are a fearless and friendly bird that will come right into your camp and rob you of your food; hence the name, Camp Robbers. They are also known as Gray Jays or Perisoreus canadensis.
These omnivores eat seeds, berries, insects, small rodents, brownies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and french fries. They are quite busy in the summer caching their food by creating pellets using their sticky saliva to paste it into small crevices amongst the trees. They will eat these hidden meals during the winter months when brownies are not abundant.
Usually Camp Robbers live in higher altitudes below tree line. Their food caches enable them to survive the higher altitudes and colder weather since they do not migrate. They prefer spruce forests and lift lines where they are more apt to find a brownie.
The next time you are skiing Steamboat Springs Ski Area, take the Morningside lift and sit on the righthand side. Scrounge around in your pocket and see what nibble you can find and hold it up for a watchful Camp Robber. They are quite brave and will land on your hand while they inspect your offering then fly away with the prize.
Grey Jays have to eat approximately 47 calories a day (we need approximately 2,000) but remember that brownies and frenchfries aren’t really what they need. In fact, we could be harming them. But, it is fun to feed them so at the very least, find something healthy in your pocket.
Camp Robbers lay their eggs in late winter and can incubate their eggs in minus 20 degree temperatures. They even have feathers on their nostrils to help warm them. The oldest Camp Robber recorded is at least 17 years old and was last captured in Colorado in 2002.
So don’t forget, the next time you are skiing at Steamboat Springs, carry some treats and look for a Camp Robber.
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