Aha! I wonder how many other times in my walks along that lake I've thought I heard a red-tailed hawk, and really it was that Steller's Jay.
So I looked it up, and it turns out this isn't the only Steller's Jay who does this. Check it out:
And that's not the only mimicry these super-smart birds engage in:
"A raucous call and a bold flash of blue at your feeder means a jay has arrived. East of the Rockies, your visitor is quite likely a Blue Jay (left). Out west, you're probably seeing a Steller's Jay. These daring blue dandies sound the alarm, announcing the approach of a predator. Often the loud call sends the predator packing. If not, a family of jays may gang up and mob the intruder. And, if that doesn't work, the jay may mimic the call of a Bald Eagle or Red-tailed Hawk -- birds at the very top of the pecking order -- to dissuade the invader. "And all of this reminds me of one of my favorite coffee-table books ever, "Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays."
I've had a copy of this book for years, and I love to pick it up and devour the photos and read bits and pieces again about these intelligent birds. I found a copy the other day at my local public library's Three-Dollar table of books people have donated, and quickly bought it. I told the librarian, "I can't believe anyone would give this book away!" (But then I did give it away, myself, to Don and Cassie.)