Saturday, February 13, 2010

GBBC - Tale of Two Jays 2-13-10

Just in time for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), an anomaly flew into our feeding area.  A Blue Jay, resident in 39 of the 50 U.S. states but rare in our scrubby hills.  And bonus, our FIRST blue jay in four years and # 85 on our house bird species list. 

 Blue jays have adapted well to living among people and are common in towns and suburbs.  You can probably see blue jays in every Hill Country town.  They fly in chattering groups, searching through neighborhoods for acorns, seeds and water.  
 Blue jays have a range of calls and are skilled mimics.  When we lived in Florida, a blue jay used to clear our feeder by whistling the cry of a red-shouldered hawk.  The other birds would scatter and the jay would fly in to a vacant feeder.

Blue Jay photo from Tony Tanoury's Flikr stream. To see more of his beautiful work, click his name.

But our rough and wild Hill Country landscape is home to a different species of jay, the Western Scrub JayScrub jays are larger and louder.  Not shy but wary.  Scrub jay family dynamics include tree-top sentinals watching and warning of threats. 

Scrub jays are far less numerous that blue jays, living primarily in dry western scrub and chaparral and oak/juniper/pinon forests. In Texas, scrub jays are only found in the Hill Country and a rugged section of far west Texas.

We've enjoyed regular scrub jay visits since we put out a bird bath.  When we saw the first jay, we started putting out peanuts in the shell, which are a strong draw for the jays.
And for the gray foxes that live in our neighborhood too.

What did you see in your yard today?  Leave a comment and share your sightings with my other Hill Country Mysteries friends.

See you tomorrow with more.

Words and photos by Kathleen Scott,for her blog Hill Country Mysteries. Copyright 2009-2010.
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