Monday, August 29, 2005

Blue Jays – Even the Bird World has its Rascals

The mischievous blue jays [Cyanocitta cristata] have returned as they do year after year. Mid summer they always leave the local bird population in relative peace and free of gang warfare but alas there is peace no more. The American robins [Turdus migratorius] take particular exception to this gang behaviour on their turf. And in winter the Jays are fighting with the (Northern) Cardinals [Cardinalis cardinalis], they just won’t quit.

Among this gang is one blue jay that has a distorted call. When it tries to call, cajole or cry out, all it can muster is a strange cackle or rattle. That same distinctive bird and its cohorts have returned each year that we have been here.

A very predatory orange cat that we thought at first was feral, but now think belongs to one of our neighbours, and that they appropriately call “Venom” continuously visits us. We keep our two cats “Brutus” – the bully-boy-bruiser – a big neutered orange and white bowling ball, and “Missy” our affectionate and fluffy Birman, (looks like a fluffy Siamese cat) indoors from late fall – when it is too cold – to mid summer.
We don’t let our cats out until mid August, when the bird hatchlings have all fledged and gone into adolescence, and even then we only let the cats out for short day trips.

Venom and Brutus seem to like to hang out together. I fear however that Venom is teaching Brutus some bad bird catching tricks.

Back to the blue jays, they make excellent warning sentinels for the cats. The cats are easily found by following the cacophony of blue jays who will follow the cats while calling the alarm of imminent danger from the tree tops overhead. It helps me find and chase Venom away with my handful of rocks for throwing, which by the way is very inaccurate while on the run.

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