Blue Jay Morning

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Blue jays are the NYC construction workers of the bird world. They’re bold and argumentative. They hang around in groups, harassing one another until some better target happens by. And they always have to have the last word.

I wake up to the sound of the jays fighting most mornings. They yell at each other, at the squirrels, and at the dogs. If I have the nerve to sit on the patio in a brightly-colored shirt, they yell at me.

I’ve grown used to their screeching, giving it no more attention than any other aspect of my life’s natural soundtrack. I’ve even learned to sleep through the daily 5:45 Blue Jay Breakfast Battle.

This morning, after pouring a tall glass of iced tea to combat the humidity that already had my clothes sticking to my skin, I walk to the screen door. The jays are louder than usual and I want to do a headcount. (To date, our largest flock included nine jays.)

Zero. Not a single jay in sight. At yet, the clamoring continues.

I walk out onto the patio, down the steps, and across the lawn, following the sound. Finally, I spot just two blue jays way up in the top branches of a skinny white pine, mouths open, wings flung wide with each cry of indignation they hurl at the falcon perched in a neighboring tree.

The falcon sits, regal and impervious, back turned to the offending blue jays. Finally, after enough time to indicate that she is leaving because she wants to, most emphatically not because they told her to, she soars up river. The jays congratulate one another’s courage and valor in the face of such danger before swooping down to the suet feeders.

***

That was about  twenty minutes ago. It was mostly quiet as I wrote, the jays having eaten their fill and wandered off, but as I type this, I can hear them in the trees a few yards east of me. They have found the falcon’s new resting place and they are making their displeasure known.

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