Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blue Jay's Ways

Watercolor  Blue Jay © 2011 Sally Wickham

Who doesn’t recognize the Blue Jay?  They are smart, adaptable rascals;  lovely to look at but harsh on the hearing.  Their raucous calls alert other birds to the dangers of hawk, owl, or human.  Blue Jays will  sometimes mimic the call of a Red-tailed Hawk.  Do they know that this call will clear the area around the feeder of all but their ilk?  Probably.  Not having to queue up for the tasty morsels is reward enough to keep repeating this behavior. 

While other birds fly up, take one seed, and then fly away to eat it, Blue Jays don’t do that.  They stay and take one, then another and another.  A spandex-like material on the floor of their mouths provides a storage area for holding as many as ten to twelve  sunflower seeds or a volume equivalent in acorns. Blue Jays love acorns.  They also love  nuts, seeds, suet, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, song bird eggs and nestlings, and WHAT?  They eat adorable song bird babies?  And their eggs?  Well, yes, they do, but not very often.   But it gave me an idea.

I am  occasionally required to set up a mouse trap line in the cellar--especially in the spring and fall.   I recycle just about everything and I thought, why not put the latest mousekin victim outside and see who takes it.  I hypothesized that it would be one of our three resident crows, but no, it was their cousin, the Blue Jay!  Within minutes, down came the jay and whack, whack, whacked away at that poor little mouse until it was in small enough pieces to be carried away. 

In the future, I will place the mouse bodies up in the garden by the compost bin.  The jays can duke it out with the crows for the booty and I won’t have to watch from the kitchen window.