Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Over 2 days at our cottage at Buffalo Point this past weekend, we were treated to an astonishing show. The blue jays that feed at our feeder were repeatedly harassed by a hawk for more than a day. the hawk would dive bomb the jays who had to flee for their lives with incredible speed an agility. This kept up for 2 days in a row. It was astonishing to see how close to the jays the hawk would get before the jay turned away narrowly missing his doom. It was a remarkable battle. As far as we could tell, the jays always managed to escape.
To me the jays until attacked appeared very arrogant. They reminded me of belligerent dukes willing to knock down anyone or anything in their paths, yet obsequious to any apparent higher authority.
At our cottage we saw many blue jays. These are really startlingly handsome birds. Downright dapper with their sharp crests and bright blue feathers. They light up an autumn afternoon. Laura Erickson, in her book, For the Birds: An Uncommon Guide, that,
“the world is a finer place because of jays. They plant more acorns than they eat, reforesting for future generations. They do steal eggs and baby birds, but in turn perform an invaluable service by alerting other birds of even more dangerous predators. Jays valiantly protect their mates and young, and many mate for life. A group of jays was once recorded feeding and guarding an old, partially blind jay, and even protectively leading it to water.”
Their most characteristic sound is an “unrelenting steel-cold scream,” as Henry David Thoreau aptly called it. The National Wildlife Service, have said that their call resembles the words “thief,” “jay,” and “peer.” However, like many birds they have a large number of calls, including a sound something like whistling “kloo-loo-loo,” that is almost like a song. In courtship it is even heard to produce a sweet warbling sound, not what we would ordinarily expect from this spunky bird. But, in love, who knows what weird sounds males will make?
Mark Twain’s favorite bird was the blue jay, and this is what he had to say about them,
“There’s more to a blue-jay than any other creature. He has got more moods and more different kinds of feelings than other creatures; and, mind you, what ever a blue-jay feels, he can put into language. And no mere commonplace language, either, but rattling, out-and-out book talk—and bristling with metaphor, too—just bristling! And as for command of language—why, you never see a blue-jay stuck for a word. No man ever did. They just boil out of him!
You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure—because he’s got feathers on him and don’t belong to no church, perhaps, but otherwise he is just as much a human as you be. And I’ll tell you for why. A jay’s gift’s, and instincts, and feelings, and interests cover the whole ground. A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a Congressman… A jay can cry, a jay can laugh, a jay can feel shame, a jay can reason and plan and discuss, a jay likes gossip and scandal, a jay has got a sense of humor, a jay knows when he is an ass just as well as you do—maybe better. If a jay ain’t human, he better take in his sign, that’s all.”