The Blue Jay: Uncommonly Smart and Beautiful

June 24, 2016

The blue jay is easily one of Missouri’s most attractive songbirds, with its multiple shades of blue, contrasting black bridle about the face, nape, and chest, coal-colored eyes, and feather-tips of brilliant white on selected feathers. Although some Missourians take this common yard bird for granted, think about how stunning a blue jay would look to somebody from out west who had never seen one before.

Blue jays are not the most beloved bird, due to their sometimes aggressive behavior around bird feeders and in yards. Also, they can be quite noisy, bordering on obnoxious, but I still love everything about them, raspy call and all! I will admit that I had a problem with blue jays in my younger days. Every time I went frog hunting, the blue jays began calling with great anxiety as I approached our pond. I was pretty young at the time and I was convinced that the blue jays were warning the frogs of my approach. I held them in great contempt during those years, but thankfully grew out of it as I grew up.

Recently, I was sitting in my turkey chair on a warm morning, waiting to photograph deer and turkey, when I saw a mama blue jay, surrounded by four or five newly-fledged young. I watched for about 15 minutes as the immature birds begged for food with their own loud “jay” calls, following mama everywhere she went. The mama jay seemed so patient as she helped her needy fledglings find morsels to eat. Her demeanor left me with another layer of respect for this somewhat misunderstood species.

One of my favorite things about blue jays is their ability to mimic a red-shouldered hawk. I hear them doing this often around the farm, and a little research on Cornell’s website revealed that the call is often used to scatter other birds away from feeders. The citation went on to say that the tactic only lasts a minute or so and the other songbirds soon return to feed with the jays.

I made the featured blue jay image right here at the farm. The jay was in a little brush pile I had constructed to attract sparrows. I was happy to get the shot because I’ve found that blue jays and crows are two of the hardest species to approach with a camera. All of my images of either species were taken from a well-concealed position in a blind or in thick cover.

The next time you see…..or hear…..a blue jay, I hope you take a moment to consider how lucky you are to have such an intelligent and beautiful animal in your presence. If you don’t see them enough, throw out some corn—they love corn.

Thanks for looking,

DB

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery and Print Information:  DannyBrownPhotography

 

 

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