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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sneaky jays and nervous titmice

It's sneaky-jay time of year. 

Cavity nesters are busy feeding their young and sneaky jays are on the lookout.

The ecological theatre is in the potting shed where the oak titmice have nestlings in the box. 

When I hear titmice sphishing, I walk to the shed and look up into the live oaks, and there they are dancing about in a frenzy of alarm.

Seeing the jay is a different matter.   

Whatever the jay -- Steller or scrub -- it tries to be cryptic. It hardly moves. In fact, it almost looks sleepy. 

But I have seen this little drama play out many times, and I know the jay is searching for helpless fledglings.   

Soon the fledglings will be out and about, and for a few days they'll be highly vulnerable. 

That's when sneaky jay will make its move as it did last year. 

I couldn't see the fledglings because they were motionless. 

But the jay pounced when a fledgling moved, and it flew off a little heavily with the squealing prey.  

Today I was a titmouse defender. I mean, I didn't build the nest box as a feeding station for jays.

"Get the hell out of here," I protest as I toss a stick up towards it. 

Under the usual  circumstances the jay would be gone, but now sneaky jay only flies up a branch. 

It doesn't regard me as a threat, and it has a lot more time than I do.



Seagull Steve said...

Once I came upon a couple of cottontails having a violent, bloody fight while out doing some bird surveys. At one point I noticed there was a Steller's Jay calmly perched nearby watching the same fight. I thought to myself, "it must be nice to have that kind of time", before I had to move on.

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