A Few of My Favorite Birds (9): Happy as a Jaybird

109 Bluejay on Railing“Well, I never thought I’d find a place where I could be
Just as happy as a jaybird in a cherry tree.” ~Frank SinatraBlue jay eating cherriesOf 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!IMG_7812My daughter Linda’s mom (who lives in Germany) says most European birds are brown, and so I especially appreciate the gorgeously adorned blue jays.Blue Jay in Winter 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. Blue Jay bright in winter They are also usually permanent residents wherever they settle throughout the eastern United States and add bright beauty to the winter landscapes! Blue jay profileBluejays 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 jayBlue 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. Bluejay 5.3.13Blue 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). Blue Jay amidst blossoms The female lays 3-6 pale buff eggs (just one batch per year), but both parents work together incubating them for two weeks.IMG_7581Both 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.Blue jay at feederOnce the hatchlings are fledged, the blue jays resume their busy antics!Steller's JayLast 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.Steller's Jay 2He 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!Blue Jay on a railing“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!IMG_7471I think our blue jays are very clever, and I take great delight in them.Blue jay in cherry treeThey keep a sharp eye out for danger; Blue jay checking out fuschia they’re playful,IMG_7540they’re curious, Blue jay near fuschia  they’re lovely,Blue Jay checking me out they don’t trust strangers, Blue Jay Keeping Warm they persevere through the hard times, Blue jay at feederthey scold interlopers and drive off predators when they can… IMG_7422 but they also know when to be quiet and take good care of their families.  IMG_9527They eventually figure out whom they can trust and are loyal to their friends.IMG_7580Don’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!Blue Jay copyAnd, 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)

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