Quoth the Blue Jay: ‘I Want Some More’


I think I know every way that blue jays are objectionable birds. They’re raucous. They’re aggressive. They prey on those weaker than themselves, and the young of those weaker than themselves. We had a towhee nest in a trellis on our back porch, and the towhees went about their business and laid their eggs, and in no time a scrub jay, maybe a couple of them, found about about it, and before we could stop nature from happening, the jays were having a scrambled towhee egg brunch.

Still. In the eye of this beholder they are beautiful. The blue plumage, for one thing. And their apparent intelligence. They just look like they’re sizing things up when you watch them. They give the impression that they’re watching you, too. Some California researchers believe our western scrub jays hold a form of funeral (more like a group alarm) when one of their jay buddies flies on to the next life (here’s a BBC story: Birds hold ‘funerals’ for dead; and a video of one of these gatherings).

The last couple of days, I’ve been trying to reclaim the North Forty (a.k.a., the backyard). A scrub jay showed up yesterday as I cleared weeds, and followed along behind me to pick over whatever I uncovered. This afternoon, same routine. This bird appeared entirely unafraid; I can’t decide if it’s a young one who hasn’t learned how untrustworthy the Wingless Two-Leggers are, or an older bird that has figured out that Berkeley is full of Bird Huggers.

Anyway. The bird hung around as long as I was clearing the ground. As soon as I stopped, it moved on, probably to the next easy meal.

3 Replies to “Quoth the Blue Jay: ‘I Want Some More’”

  1. That funeral video is amazing. I didn’t know that. The jays around here have a pointed tuft on the top of their heads. When I was a kid, they were a regular sight. These days, I’ll see one or blue jays two every couple years. Not sure why.

  2. Growing up in the south suburbs, those crested blue jays seemed ubiquitous. I remember seeing a pair trying to fight off a squirrel that was intent on raiding their nest. They were ferocious, but in the end I think the squirrel got to the nest (and their eggs or chicks). As Lillian Gish says in “The Night of the Hunter,” “It’s a hard world for little things.”

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