Corvids & Congressmen~

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Blue Jays (California Coastal Scrub Jays) are smart birds and they are handsome birds, and I get the feeling they know both these things about themselves, and even more I get the feeling they are none too impressed with us humans. It’s kinda the way they look at us (see above) and scold us (see below). I always suspect they are correct when they scold me as I surely am doing something annoying.
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There is at least one human being who I am certain is smarter than a Blue Jay and that is Mark Twain. So check out what he had to say on the subject…..
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“You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure – because he’s got feathers on him, and don’t belong to no church, perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much a human as you be. And I’ll tell you for why. A jay’s gifts, and instincts, and feelings, and interests, cover the whole ground. A jay hasn’t got any more principle than a congressman.”
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“A jay will lie, a jay will steal, a jay will deceive, a jay will betray; and four times out of five, a jay will go back on his solemnest promise. The sacredness of an obligation is a thing which you can’t cram into no bluejay’s head. Now, on top of all this, there’s another thing; a jay can outswear any gentleman in the mines….”
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“And there’s yet another thing; in the one little particular of scolding – just good, clean, out-and-out scolding – a bluejay can lay over anything, human or divine. Yes, sir, a jay is everything that a man is.”
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“A jay can cry, a jay can laugh, a jay can feel shame, a jay can reason and plan and discuss, a jay likes gossip and scandal, a jay has got a sense of humor, a jay knows when he is an ass just as well as you do – maybe better.”
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Of course Twain is right, especially about congressmen, but about Blue Jays too. They are corvids and are highly intelligent with excellent memories and the ability to plan for the future, a trait once thought only primates were capable of. Jays like to hide food and objects for the future in caches and can remember the location of up to 200 of these caches. Since I regularly cannot locate my keys or glasses, I find this ability impressive.
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Cheers to you from California’s bossy, sometimes dishonest Blue Jays, who are probably more intelligent than your average congressman~

168 thoughts on “Corvids & Congressmen~

  1. Your opening image in this post is strikingly beautiful, Cindy. It captured my imagination and set the tone for my day. The blue on the orange in the sunlight..
    Nature at its finest! Congratulations to the photographic artist.

  2. I have to say, your photos are stunning. The clarity and texture is A+. I do a bit of photoblogging myself, and my camera isn’t adequate. I’m saving for a new one. If you don’t mind sharing, what kind of equipment are you using to take these photos? Quality-wise, they are some of the best I’ve seen on a blog.

    • I am blown away by the collective talent on your blog! Seriously rocks.
      The camera which deserves much of the credit (no lie) is a Sony HX300. It costs in the $600 range. I am continuously amazed with Sony technoloy. I am eyeing a faster Sony, better for birds. I am by no means a professional level photographer, having just started really focusing on it a couple years ago. You are very nice and I appreciate your words~

    • They are gorgeous and they know it too!! I love that Twain watched them so much and used them to poke fun at us. What a genius. So happy you had fun!! I did too~

  3. We have Stellar Blue Jays in our mountains. They mostly stay in the valley bottom land, not half-way up the mountain where our clearing is. When they do come around, they chase everyone else around, dominate the bird feeders, and harrass our dogs…. just like politicians.
    Oscar

  4. the jays around here are just pheasants (hahaha!!) no crown you see–but I do love them. Their voices are so harshly plaintive…I have a sad cat/bird story I won’t share but I am sure that birdee knew just what happened…

    I keep a big ole bowl of water out there hanging in an old plant hanger, and whenever I refresh it (once a week) a jay comes right away and has a birdee dip…It makes me feel all oogey warm and fuzzy…

    I love Mark Twain! And heartily recommend his autobiography to anyone who does, too. (soo…everyone) I listened to it on tape at work and found his real self to be very like an overgrown Huck Finn…he really was a riverboat captain for a spell, but you prolly know that…

    Great pictorial, great lead through, great topic, and altogether awesome sauce. Your weave is evolving into something really spectacular, CK. :)

    • That is a coincidence, I just made another pond out of several different sized wine barrels. I feel terrible for the animals out here due to the drought and figure this might help.
      Twain is up there with Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and Johnathan Swift. He is a kick ass good satirist. I pretty much like anyone who likes Twain!!! ;)

    • What you are saying is finally being proven by science. Certain birds for example can count, use grammar, plan for the future, and have a sense of self. Characteristics previously thought only primates were capable of! Thank you for your perceptive comment~

      • I wrote a post a few months ago (I can’t remeber the title of it) about research that was done recently on chickens to measure their intelligence, and the scientists found that chicken mothers care for their chicks and react visibly when their chicks are in danger. They also found that male chickens see each other as rivals. A male chicke can also fool other males into thinking that there is a predator around so that the male can be alone with a female!

      • Wow! Fascinating. I live amongst free range cattle. I am simply amazed at their social structure, their allocation of tasks; childcare, herd protection etc. When I first moved here I observed them having what I called a cow funeral. I was so stunned I posted a query about it online. About two years later I was looking more into cattle and I saw my query had generated pages and pages of internet discussion that was practically Platonian…..everything from my question was “dangerous because it implied animals were sentient and hence we couldn’t butcher them,” to people discussing grieving ducks, and horses who wouldn’t die until they could say goodbye to their offspring. There was even a Masai, formerly a cattle herder, now a college student, who told me how intelligent cattle were and how they warned the Masai of danger in the bush and water availabiltiy. I posted portions of it on my blog. Fascinating. I think we haven’t WANTED to know how sentient animals truly are because if we knew this, we would have a harder time eating them and mistreating them.

  5. They are such gorgeous looking birds, you’ve captured them well Cindy! They have a real punk hair thing going on!! :D I have seen some Blue Jays in Britain a few years ago, they are quite large birds and so colourful, but different to your birds here. It’s a rarity to see them in the UK anyway, but to see them in a city is even more rare – must have been my lucky day! :)

    • Yes they are quite big in Canada as well. I will have to keep my eyes open for them next year when I visit the UK. Cheers to you and thanks for alerting to their presence. I had no idea they were in the UK!

  6. I will be echoing all that has been said, but your bird photography is exceptional and the pairing of the Twain quotes is delightful and yet thought provoking. Instead of mankind going to the dogs we have jay bird congressmen. Love it. That must be holler talk. :)

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