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Birds: The Jay

[Titmouse]  [Golden Oriole]  [Shrike]  [Jay]  [Blue Jay]  [Magpie]  [Raven]  [Tame Raven]  [Rook]  [Canary]  [More Information About Birds] 

( Originally Published 1894 )

We now come to the family of the Corvidae, the crow family, which includes the jays, the Magpies and the Choughs. The Common Jay is indigenous in England where it secludes itself in woody fastnesses, rarely exposing itself in open country. It is a handsome bird about thirteen inches long, with beautiful blue markings on its wings, but is so shy that it is difficult to get a sight of it when at liberty. Taken young it may be easily tamed, when it becomes an amusing, if mischievous pet. It has considerable powers of mimicry and can imitate the common sounds it hears with wonderful exactness. The bleat of the lamb, the mew of the cat, the neigh of the horse and the cries of other birds give exercise to this faculty, and Bewick says: " We have heard one imitate the sound made by the action of a saw, so exactly, that though it was on a Sunday, we could hardly be persuaded that the person who kept it had not a carpenter at work in the house." Like many other birds it becomes bold in the care and protection of its young. Knapp in his "Journals of a Naturalist" says ; 'This bird is always extremely timid, when its own interest or safety is solely concerned; but no sooner does its hungry brood clamour for supply, than it loses a!1 its wary character, and becomes a bold and impudent thief. At this period it will visit our gardens, which it rarely approaches at other times, plunder them of every raspberry, cherry, or bean, that it can obtain, and will not cease from rapine as long as any of the brood or the crop remains. We see all the nestlings approach, and, settling near some meditated scene of plunder, quietly await a summons to commence. A parent bird from some tree, surveys the ground, then descends upon the cherry, or into the rows, immediately announces a discovery, by a low but particular call, and all the family flock into the banquet, which having finished by repeated visits, the old birds return to the woods, with all their chattering children, and become the same wild, cautious creatures they were before."

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