Monday, June 6, 2016

Blue Jay Beauty

When I saw this bird out of the corner of my eye, perched in a paper birch, I didn't know what it was.  In the next few seconds he (she?) turned every which way and showed a different appearance each time--like a runway model.  I can hardly imagine a more fetching combination of colors than this.  

Blue jays eat practically everything from seeds to nuts to insects to small animals (rarely eggs or nestlings).  They are intelligent.  Males & females share nest-making responsibility, and they seem to pair-bond for life.  They are not aggressive around bird feeders.  Although known for their harsh, raucous call, they also have a variety of songs, and do a very fair imitation of the red-tailed hawk's cry that used to fool me regularly.

That both males and females are colored like this may tell us something about them, and us.  In general, one sex (most often the female) chooses their mate.  The choosier is most often the female because the female has the biggest investment in offspring, and the most to lose if she chooses poorly.  Since both are colored, perhaps blue jays choose each other?  In any event, the colors that so entrance me must also entrance them--otherwise blue jays wouldn't find their mates so attractive, and by their choices drive natural selection to generate such a palette.  So, in a sense, the blue jays and I have common tastes.

Blue jays are common enough around here, but this one gave me enough of a start to look at them again, and appreciate beauty I had taken for granted.

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