Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blue Jay


Besides being a noisy bird with a harsh voice, the Blue Jay copes with a rather unsettling reputation. Commonly known to be a nest robber and an egg eater...his defense is he is not the worst of the bunch. And that's right. The American Crow has an even more menacing reputation of nest predation.

'Not the worst' isn't the most eloquent defense though, but he is just playing the hand he was dealt.

Blue Jays are social birds within their own group...some even mate for life. But Blue Jays don't seem to make friends easily.

You rarely see Blue Jays intermingle with other birds in defensive cooperation.

Blue Jays keep to themselves.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)


A noisy "squawk" often announces his arrival, closely followed by a posture declaring who the boss is now. It's a bluff...one he cannot defend. Many other birds bully the Blue Jay until he flies away.

One outstanding feature of a Blue Jay is the blue. 

Bold contrasts and gentle shading give this large songbird a dramatic look like no other.

In actual fact, the blue is not blue at all. According to Cornell University:
The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.



Even social birds can have their squabbles.

A dispute erupts on a low branch over the green-blanketed Milwaukee River. Two Blue Jays fight over possession of this prime river spot.

The attacker quickly becomes the loser. He receives a mucky green bath for his boldness before flying off.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

It's hard to clean up a soiled reputation. It's likely Blue Jays are not all that good at influencing public opinion or simply don't care either way. Perhaps, however, our opinion of the beautiful Blue Jay's nature deserves an upgrade.

Allan

Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds