“Well, I never thought I’d find a place where I could be
Just as happy as a jaybird in a cherry tree.” ~Frank SinatraOf all the birds that populate our backyard, I don’t think there is any birdbrain more handsome, intelligent, gregarious, or raucous than our loudmouth jays!My daughter Linda’s mom (who lives in Germany) says most European birds are brown, and so I especially appreciate the gorgeously adorned blue jays. They’re among the largest of the songbirds (12″) and easily identified by their brilliant blue, black, and white plumage, handsome crest, and black necklace, which is the year-round attire of both males and females. They are also usually permanent residents wherever they settle throughout the eastern United States and add bright beauty to the winter landscapes! Bluejays love the sunflower seeds and cracked corn at our feeder, but they’re really omnivorous, also eating insects, fruit, and even bits of road-killed carrion. Blue jays are actually very clever! They can roust a sleepy owl or scold a quiet hiker passing by, but they can also move noiselessly through the woods at times. Blue jays are generally noisy, but they are quiet when nesting. They build their nests 5-50 feet off the ground in any handy tree (but especially oak or pine). The female lays 3-6 pale buff eggs (just one batch per year), but both parents work together incubating them for two weeks.Both parents also work hard caring for the young, and within three weeks the fledglings look just like miniature versions their parents, only with shorter tails.Once the hatchlings are fledged, the blue jays resume their busy antics!Last week, while hiking in Oregon along the Deschutes River, we fell under the wrath of the blue jay’s western cousin: a Steller’s Jay.He was extremely upset that we were traversing his territory and scolded us mercilessly until we were well past his favorite tree…just like our jays at home!“Silly bird!” I admonished him. “We won’t hurt you!” But, I didn’t really think he was silly. I thought he was wise to shriek until we left. Jays are the neighborhood watch system, warning everyone if anything out of the ordinary is happening!I think our blue jays are very clever, and I take great delight in them.They keep a sharp eye out for danger; they’re playful,they’re curious, they’re lovely, they don’t trust strangers, they persevere through the hard times, they scold interlopers and drive off predators when they can… but they also know when to be quiet and take good care of their families. They eventually figure out whom they can trust and are loyal to their friends.Don’t they sound like great birdbrains to have in the community?
No wonder people sing about being as happy as a jaybird in a cherry tree!And, no wonder I’m as happy as a jaybird to have blue jays in my backyard!
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100)