Scrubbed jay
Wednesday August 15th 2012, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I decided yesterday, as I watched a steady stream of three dozen crows flying over the houses down the block but well away from mine, that maybe I should appreciate my scrub jays better. Maybe they keep their cousins away?

But the moment gave me an instant flashback to my childhood in a different place and climate, when you could look to the skies and see thousands of birds of a size together, spring or fall, coming or going going going for days and days till they were gone.

One of our resident pair of the beautiful bossy stabby-beaked blue birds showed up Sunday with the entire tip of its tail somehow bent 90 degrees down. That means broken feather shafts straight across and I wondered how on earth it had done it. Its flight and landing seemed ever so slightly less certain to my human eye, but I wondered if I’d imagined it.

Apparently something else would say no, it noticed it, too.

We had had just the one pair since late spring; they have dominated my yard and brooked no intrusions, and I actually got to see the female begging its mate for food in a territorial display on the fencetop.  They were clearly different from any we’ve had before: they didn’t know they could land on the birdfeeder. I’d never seen ones before that wouldn’t. I’d been waiting for one of them to try it out.

After just that one day I never saw the broken tail again. The next day, there were at least three healthy jays fighting around my yard, swooping back and forth, terrorizing the finches, and one of them ever so briefly landed on that feeder after all, hopping immediately away as it swung wildly–whoa, that didn’t work! It swooped off to chase another jay as if it were its fault, they argued, and at last by today we seemed to be back to two jays again. Whoever they were.

Nature seems to settle its fights fast.

And then.

I saw one swoop into the tree this afternoon with such speed that it made me look up and then he tumbled down in a fake and beat it out of there with all that he had. Right behind him was–the Cooper’s hawk! I haven’t seen him for months! There, upper left in the photo, there he is. It felt so good to have him back. He gave up the chase and settled where the other had been.

I definitely think he’d gotten a taste of jay and wanted more.

They only came back  a long time after that to grab food on the run, hightailing it immediately across the yard the opposite direction and out of here.

The sheriff’s back in town.

4 Comments so far
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I love a good western movie…

Comment by Channon 08.16.12 @ 6:32 am

And I love Channon’s comment.
That’s quite the aviary you have there!

Comment by Don Meyer 08.16.12 @ 8:52 am

One more beautifuly written episode of nature’s fascinating entertainment! 🙂

Comment by Suzanne from Montreal 08.16.12 @ 7:55 pm

I was watching squirrels and a chipmunk debating who got the territory under the birdfeeder today. Seems like everyone is thinking summer is about over and it is time to fatten up good!

Comment by twinsetellen 08.17.12 @ 5:18 pm

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