Monday, June 22, 2009

BEST BLUE JAY STORY I EVER HEARD


Yesterday evening my friends Catherine and Ed came over some noshes on the patio. After we ate, we moved the chairs right up to the breakwall (it was delightfully calm, so we could sit it what otherwise would have been the splash zone!) and watch a spectacular sunset. Flocks of Ring-billed gulls flew high into the dusk, headed off to one of the small Erie islands for a safe place to roost for the night, Common terms dive-bombed for fish, both a great blue and a white heron flew majestically by, while overhead, swallows and martins vied for aerial territory to catch midges. Even a lone Common goldeneye in juvenile plummage (something I'd never seen here in summer before) drifted quietly along. As we watched all the birds go by, we swapped birds stories. I described how I'd once seen a bluejay and a chickadee flying past my back window toward the birdfeeder. The chickadee miscalculated, and lightly hit the window, which caused the jay to pivot dramatically in mid-flight and try to catch the disoriented little 'dee. After a split-second tumble, the chickadee made a desperate recovery, shook off the hit, and was able to elude the jay. That was pretty dramatic, but then Ed told his bluejay story, which is even better.

Bluejays and their relatives (the Corvid family) have a rep for being among the most intelligent birds. Ed recounted how he saw a bluejay trying to make off with a small snake in the grass. He didn't know if the jay had actually killed the snake, but I wouldn't be surprised. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the jay disappeared, to return shortly with another jay. Between the two, they were able to lift the snake, carry it up and drape it over a branch, where one jay pecked it in two, and each jay then got a half. I think that's a remarkable show of intelligence, not to mention communication. Would love to hear your "smart bird" stories!

Image from the Blue Jay Learning Zone

14 comments:

Poetikat said...

Shortly after we moved to this house, the local cardinal couple built a nest in the tree directly in front of our living room window (and upstairs bedroom window). When their babies were born the male would sit on our window ledges and keep an eye on us - peering in the living room window, or resting on the roof just below the one for our bedroom. We got to think of him as a spy and soon he was christened "Philby". When mom kept a similar eye on our activities, she got the name "Rose" (as in Tokyo Rose). Very soon after they became "Rose and Phil". They (or their offspring are still around.) Phil loves to fly directly through our sprinkler out back.

Kat

gautami tripathy said...

Love that photo and your account.

Good to see you posting.

mom/caryn said...

That IS a great story! Smart little buggrs. And gorgeous to boot!

bobbie said...

Great stories!
My only blue jay stories involve one hitting my five year old in the had when he got too close to a baby on the ground; and another dive bombing the mailman and my husband, both trying to get to the front door.

Sylvia K said...

Well, I don't have any smart bird stories, but this is fabulous! Wow! Thanks so much for sharing and I love the photo!

Have a great week, Deborah.

Lin said...

what a fun bird story, I have none except for the bird who flew into my window years ago and I thought was dead but it revived soon and flew away to my relief and probably his also.

Shellmo said...

Gorgeous photo! Love hearing about the Blue Jay - they are intelligent (and can be a little ruthless!)

Ruth said...

I linked into your main web site for the first time through the comment you left on my blog. Very impressive indeed! You are a very talented and accomplished person.
Quite the Blue Jay story. I hope my frequent visiting Jays stick to peanuts don't divide a snake on my deck.

Rose said...

Try as I might, I cannot think of a smart bird story, but I enjoyed yours.

I do however have a funny bird story. When I was a kid, our back poroh was screened in. However, there was a hole in on section of the screen.

Well, the Wrens built a nest on the back porch at least half the time...so were used to coming in and out that hole.

So, we would have the kitchen door open, and one day my mom cut herself a piece of cake and had it setting on the table when the phone rang or something...she had to leave the kitchen. When she came back in, the wren was eating her cake.

Wren said...

Now it's the best blue jay story I've ever heard, too, though I have to admit a fondness for Rose's story about the wren.

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Two great stories. I have always heard how smart they were, but can't understand why they can't find all those acorns they plant!

My mom had to rescue my brother from a flock of jays once when we were kids. She literally had to chase them away with the broom. He still says he wasn't doing anything to upset them them. No one believes him.

Quiet Paths said...

That is a fascinating story about the snake. I had no idea. Mine is not that interesting other than my extended family and friends met at Kalaloch beach out on the coast for a big picnic and a couple of jays, who had been eating very blue berries, started pooping on us from the trees above so we would move and leave leftovers.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Who came up with 'bird brain'? Obviously they had no clue what they were talking about.

The only story I can come up with is several years ago. My cat doesn't have claws and couldn't fight her way out of an out paper bag. Anyway because she's a lover not a fighter, I put her on a leash whenever we go out. She's happily walk around and I'm on the deck. I heard the squawk, but couldn't get to my cat in time. A mockingbird buzzed her from behind. she must have jumped a couple off the ground, turned and came running for me, eyes all black and shaking like a leaf. It was quite sometime before she went out again.

Oh I thought of another mocking bird story. I was sitting on the deck when the mocking bird went crazy. I got up to see Ralphy running at top speed with the mocking bird in hot pursuit. He ran under a bush, peering out at the mocking bird with a smug look.

Kevin said...

Great looking birds. We only have the Stellers Jay out here, smart enough to bug you when you're having a picnic!