A raucous call and a bold flash of blue at your feeder means a jay has arrived. East of the Rockies, your visitor is quite likely a Blue Jay (left). Out west, you're probably seeing a Steller's Jay. These daring blue dandies sound the alarm, announcing the approach of a predator. Often the loud call sends the predator packing. If not, a family of jays may gang up and mob the intruder. And, if that doesn't work, the jay may mimic the call of a Bald Eagle or Red-tailed Hawk -- birds at the very top of the pecking order -- to dissuade the invader.
Those Raucous Jays
Adapted from a script by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Steller’s Jay calling]
When you hear a raucous call and see a bold flash of blue swoop to your bird feeder, you’ll know a jay has arrived. And all the little birds dart for cover. East of the Rockies, your visitor is quite likely a Blue Jay. [Blue Jay calling] Out west, you’re probably seeing a Steller’s Jay. [Steller’s Jay calling]
Standing on the feeder, the jay peers around with beady black eyes, tosses its crest, then jabs at the sunflower seeds with its strong beak. When it’s finished, it calls again and flies off. [Blue Jay calling] Only then do the little birds trickle back.
These daring blue dandies sound the alarm, announcing the approach of a predator. Often the loud call sends the predator packing. If not, a family of jays may gang up and mob the intruder [Sounds of a Steller’s Jay mob]. And, if that doesn’t work, the jay may mimic the call of a Bald Eagle or Red-tailed Hawk—birds at the very top of the pecking order—to dissuade the invader.
[Sounds of Steller’s Jay mimicking a Red-tailed Hawk]
The alarm call of the jay helps protect not only the jay and its kin, but all those smaller birds too.
[Blue Jay calling]
Support for BirdNote comes from Seattle’s Portage Bay Café & catering. Serving local, organic food as part of their commitment to the environment. Info at portagebaycafé.com.
Audio recording of the Steller’s Jay provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of single Steller’s Jay and Steller’s Jay mimicking Red-tailed Hawk recorded by W.W.H. Gunn. Call of Blue Jay and multiple Steller’s Jays recorded by G.A. Keller.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org March 2017/2020/2022 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# orig: 030705STJA STJABLJA-02