Monday, 17 August 2020

Garrulus glandarius - Jay

This extremely wary young Jay spent a long time in the garden yesterday - Sunday, entertaining us. We delighted in his slow and deliberate wing flapping as he jerked between the tall climbing plants before flying into our large Hornbeam tree. He would then fly down to the ground where he appeared to find food in and on the ground to satisfy his omnivorous needs. Jays are highly intelligent and the harsh raucous call you often hear is just part of a very wide repertoire. He can raise his crown feathers up into a crest when excited or displaying. I say 'he' but the bird might have been a female - they both look alike. I love the colour of the dusty pink feathers offset by the flashes of baby blue on the wings.
image taken through glass 
The Jay was one of the many species originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his landmark 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae. He recognised its affinity with other corvids, (does that name have a familar ring?) naming it Corvus glandarius. The current scientific name is from Latin; garrulus means noisy or chattering, and glandarius is "of acorns", a favoured food.
Their intelligence is similar to other corvids - jays have been reported to plan for their future needs. Male jays also take into account the desires of their partner when sharing food with her as a courtship ritual, and also when protecting their food items from stealing by other members of the same genus i.e. magpies, rooks, crows, ravens, choughs, and jackdaws.
In order to keep their plumage free of parasites, they lie on top of anthills with spread wings allowing their feathers to be sprayed with formic acid by the ants.

37 comments:

  1. What a wonderful visitor to your garden, Rosemary. I hope that you felt a special sense of privilege! I use the word Corvid so frequently that when the pandemic first foisted itself upon us I continually wrote CORVID-19, much to the amusement of many of my friends. Clearly no self-respecting crow would ever impose such a burden on us!

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    1. It is interesting that a word which was not a usual part of our general vocabulary last year is now a familiar word around the world.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, I don't think that we have this kind of jay in Ohio, although bluejays are extremely common, perhaps because there are lots of oak trees. While bluejays are very attractive, they have the same annoying squawk--even if it is only part of their repertoire, it is the part you notice!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I don't think that it occurs in the Americas at all. However, it does cover a vast area from western Europe and north-west Africa to the Indian subcontinent and further to the eastern seaboard of Asia and down into south-east Asia. Having said that, although not rare, they are not commonly seen here, as they are extremely wary and secretive.

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    2. Hello again, I looked it up, and the American bluejays, while corvids, are a different species, Cyanocitta cristata (and a few others). They are all blue on top, and white underneath. Unlike the European version, bluejays are not shy at all, and virtually every day you can hear their screams and see that flash of bright blue flying by. --Jim

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    3. Thanks for that interesting information Jim - I had assumed that they were the same species.

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  3. I love that about the ants! We have jays visiting, and magpies. It is indeed fun to watch them learning to become more agile. The birds are not eating at our garden just now, I think they have an abundance of insect life in the woods.

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    1. I think Jays are the only birds that use the ants to free their plumage of parasites Betty - they are very intelligent little birds.

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  4. "Garrulus" - never was a bird more aptly named. Nice to see a young one making his/her way in this dangerous world. Among their repertoire of sounds is a very convincing Buzzard mew; no one seems to know why they do it but I would guess it's to divert other birds attention while they bury an acorn. Now if only I could catch one in the act.....

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    1. I think that I know now where all of the little oak seedlings in our garden come from - I am forever having to pull them up else we would be living in a forest.

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  5. Dearest Rosemary,
    Loved this post as it showed me once again the much prettier European Jay. Always loved them!
    Here we do have the blue jay but they're a lot taller and their noise is not pretty, compared to the European ones.
    You had me laugh though with your sentence: Their intelligence is similar to other covids... You no doubt mean corvids here! It shows that my editing job has kind of affected me! Still, my Pieter has found a few flaws that I overlooked. Well, I'm far from perfect and don't even want to be. My graphic designer when she started to move my chapters into the Typesetting format for adding the Figures and the Tables, she abbreviated in a funny way that had both of us laugh: Thresh-olds. She's from Germany and might have overlooked this but I added my sticky note mentioning that this should not be 'old' but 'hold' and the 'h' from thresh moves over therefore... We all need a chuckle and this year even more than other years!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - glad that you enjoyed seeing our European Jay, reminding you no doubt, of the time when you lived in the Netherlands.
      Glad my mistake gave you laugh, I am so used to writing about this wretched virus that it slipped from my fingers, unnoticed, whilst typing, but thanks anyway, it has now been changed.

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  6. How wonderful and thank you for all that information. I don't remember Jays from my childhood and we don't have them over here.

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    1. I don't think I remember seeing them in my childhood either. The are lovely looking birds but very wary.

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  7. Nice photo. Despite years of trying I've never been able to get a decent photo of a jay- just that harsh warning call then a bum and tail disappearing deeper into the forest high up in the canopy. Well done you.

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    1. I was really surprised that it hung around in the garden for well over an hour and was very entertaining to watch. No other birds came into the garden at that time or it would have been off in a flash.

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  8. We occasionally see jays in the cover of the trees in a neighbour's garden. The flash of blue and the light brown identify them. They are too quick to take a good photo, but it satisfying to know they are there even if they come and go.

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    1. I have never been successful before, such a wary bird. I love to see them visiting the garden but they are usually in and out before you can say 'Jack Robinson'.

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  9. I once saw a group of Jays on my oak, chattering to other like parrots as their head feathers rose up in mohicans - just like parrots! I have never seen this before or since.

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    1. They are attractive birds - I too would like to see a few chattering together, but it is unusual to see more than two together.

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  10. Dear Rosemary, yesterday I wrote such a long comment to you - and then it vanished; maybe it is not so easy from Zouteland to send it.
    I loved your photo - and learned that jays both, male and female, have beautiful feathers.
    I told that in Berlin my balcony I am often visited by a jaybird or two - they dig some acorns into my flowers and sometime drink water. They look so beautiful! Their "songs" are a variation of the theme "Beauty lies in the ears of the beholder", I think. :-)
    I hope my comment will work now... Britta xx

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    1. Dear Britta - you have arrived in comments safely, must be because new blogger is playing up!!!
      Zouteland sounds so exotic, it reminds me of place names when we visited South Africa where I bought my beautiful Zulu beaded necklace. However, I expect that is because you are obviously in the Netherlands currently, and South Africa was once a Dutch Colony.
      Jays love acorns, and apparently they are responsible for many of the ancient oak trees that can be seen here across the country.

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  11. Clever bird and rather nice to look at.
    Birds are fascinating to watch, we have a few gathering straw in the garden to make their nests at the moment, we have a nest in the weeping standard rose.

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  12. I have never seen one of these Jays. What beautiful markings. In Texas we have Blue Jays and they have a reputation of being rather aggressive and mean. In Colorado, where I am now, we have Stellar Jays. I don’t have a big selection of birds at this high altitude though.

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    1. Although both birds share the name Jay I am informed by an American blogger that they are actually a different species.

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  13. I have a jay visits my garden regularly, almost daily. It is said to be very lucky to find a jay feather. I watch out for one but have never found one.

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    1. You can buy one of the blue Jay feathers on Etsy for £4 - do you think that it would still bring luck?

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    2. No! You just have to find one by chance.

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  14. That's a lovely photo. At my ripe old age I don't think I have ever seen a real live Jay, it's a pretty bird, with that lovely flash of blue. Very interesting post Rosemary, especially how they keep their plumage clean.

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    1. I don't think that I saw them either until I moved to the Cotswolds. I always see them now, not frequently, but several times a year.

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