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Birds: The Blue Jay

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

( Originally Published 1894 )

Wilson gives the following description of the Blue Jay: "This elegant bird, peculiar to North America, is distinguished as a kind of beau among the feathered tenants of the woods, by the brilliancy of his dress; and like most other coxcombs, makes himself still more conspicuous by his loquacity, and the oddness of his tones . and gestures. Of all birds he is the most bitter enemy to the owl. No sooner has he discovered the retreat of one of these, than he calls the whole feathered fraternity to his assistance, who surround the glimmering recluse, and attack him from all sides, raising such a shout as may be heard on a still day more than half a mile off. The owl at length, forced to "betake himself to flight, is followed by his whole train of persecutors, until driven beyond the boundaries of their jurisdiction. But the blue jay himself is not guiltless of similar depredations as the owl and becomes in his turn the very tyrant he detested, and he is sometimes attacked with such spirit as to be under the necessity of making a speedy retreat. The blue jay is not only bold and vociferous, but possesses a considerable talent for mimicry, and seems to enjoy great satisfaction in mocking and teasing other birds, particularly the little hawk, imitating his cry whenever he sees him, and squeaking out as if caught; this soon brings a number of his own tribe around him, who all join in the frolic, darting about the hawk, and feigning the cries of a bird sorely wounded, and already in the clutches of its devourer; while others lie concealed in bushes, ready to second their associates in the attack. But this ludicrous farce often terminates tragically. The hawk, singling out one of the most insolent and provoking, swoops upon him in an unguarded moment, and offers him up a sacrifice to his hunger and resentment. In an instant the tune is changed, all their buffoonery vanishes, and loud and incessant screams proclaim their disaster. Whenever the jay has had the advantage of education from man, he has not only shown himself an apt scholar, but his suavity of manners seems equalled only by his art and contrivances, though it must be confessed that his itch for thieving keeps pace with all his other acquirements."

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