Corvids & Congressmen~

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.
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…..
“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.”
“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….”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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. Stunning! My fathers favorite bird is the Blue Jay. His philosophy is very deep when it comes to ornithology and botany. I’ll definitely have to show him this when I’m within his presence.

  2. I agree. Especially this one (he or she) appears showing off his/her good looks and intelligence. He/she also looks like turning his/her back to my admiration.

  3. Very entertaining piece. After many contentious – but not violent – interactions with Blue Jays, I’ve often asked myself: “How can a creature so beautiful be so mischievous?”

  4. Mark Twain hit the nail on the head, Cindy. Our house is surrounded by Stellar/Mountain Jays who talk to us all the time. And indeed they speak in many voices. I get an earful every time I go outside, especially if I haven’t put out their daily quota of sunflower seeds. The greedy guys can load about 20 into their gullet before they fly off to process them… or bury them in a flower pot. πŸ™‚ Fun blog and great photos. –Curt

  5. Wonderful post, Cindy! Funny, informative and true to heart!
    Our Blue Jays look a bit different, but there is no mistaking the family connection!
    We also have the “Toronto Blue Jays” an awesome baseball team.
    Okay…Blue Jays …Let’s play ball! “lol”
    Love this post!

    1. And we have the baseball blue jays!! That’s all google wanted to talk about! πŸ˜‰ I have some clicks of your birdie Blue Jays from my recent trip. They are much bigger, less timid and beee-yut-eee-full!

  6. Your blue jays may look different than our blue jays on the East Coast but the description fits to a tee. I am in awe you got one to hold still long enough to get one photo. And you have many great photos — wow. I tried taking a few photos of a blue jay today — my ears are still ringing from the cussing out I got.

    1. Laughing!!! Yes they are so more harder to photograph than the ones in Canada. I even got the baby but he was just a grey blob being fed. I probably should have posted. Boy did they cuss me out for walking near the baby!! They are hard to get still enough to photograph and I have been stalking them for awhile….they probably won’t forgive me!! πŸ˜‰

  7. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you Cindy! I adore all the corvidae, but especially blue jays. As glad as I am for federal bird protection laws, I still wish I could have a pet jay. Not in a cage, just a hand raised rescue (all my pets have always been rescue animals, as I don’t believe you can own or buy a living being) who could come and go freely but would know me and always know where to get free food and good music and conversation;-). Parrots are brilliant too but I’m scared to let them fly free because they aren’t from around here. (Tho I’ve heard stories of the legendary cockatiel colony of Redington Beach, FL. I’d love to find a photograph that if it really exists!) My cockatiel used to mimic other birds just like jays do, which made the jays curious. They would sit on a branch right outside his cage and converse. He passed away years ago sadly, but two days ago a bird outside repeated his personal call out of the blue-probably a jay;-)

    1. Yes my cockatiels would do this too…..have chats with the wild birds. It was wonderful. The wild birds would come close to check out the oddity. There is a wild parrot colony in Pt Loma (a community in San Diego). They are all over and nest and make a racket. I have seen them but would need to spend the night in someone’s house to photograph them in their nests in the spring and no one has invited me. Hint, hint….. laughing!!! πŸ˜‰ My friend had a rescued hand raised mocking bird that moved freely from house to yard so I know how truly awesome this is. What similar experiences we have had with birds my friend! No wondder we like each so much~

  8. What superb photographs of such lovely birds!

    My husband had a pet jay…found as a baby….which came and went as it pleased. One day it went – as he thought – for good.
    Months later it returned, with its young flying around above and its mate screaming in panic from the trees behind.

    It came to his hand, as always, waited for a moment and then flew away, its family around it.

    1. Oh MY GOD!! That story gives me goosebumps. How positively wonderful! Reminds me of Elsa bringing her lion cubs back to introduce them to Joy Adamson. Incredible. Not only did the Jay remember your husband and where he lived, it wanted to introduce the family, it cared for your husband. We have so much to learn from animals. Thank you for sharing this incredible story~

  9. Now there is a bird smarter than me. I learned my wife is way smarter than me, and then later in life, my dog. Now a bird.

    I did not know that about them. Intersting.

  10. We had these jays with the triangle cones on their heads in Blue Jay California. My daddy called them stellar jays and they are so annoying stealing the peanuts we laid out for the squirrels and chattering endlessly.

  11. Oh Cindy! What a beautiful bird! Does it live in Heaven??? πŸ™‚ You know, the blue color is my favorite one, and I always find blue birds “magical”… your post is like a present! I know you have stunning birds in the US. For example the “blue jay”… but this one is maybe even nicer! Merci Cindy, take care! xxoo

    1. Yes there is the Blue Bird of Happiness after all!! I love the color blue in nature inordinately, blue flowers which I plant and blue birds like these jays and hyacinth macaws. They are heavenly, ethereal creatures. So glad you agree with me~

    1. Yep agree with you on the smarts issue and yes there are three regional jays in the US that I know of and the one’s I saw in Canada were much bigger and much less timid!

  12. The second photo is my favorite. The dark head sets these apart from their eastern cousins, but it sounds like they have the same attitude!

  13. I usually visit your blog to enjoy the tremendous photographs of you –I suppose it’s your work, isn’t it?– well, to be honest, I didn’t think I’d want to read what you write about birds but I just did. It’s really adorable how you explained the Bluejay’s looks, he scolds us, the second picture is my favorite. Thank you for sharing this with us, really happy I did read the post. πŸ™‚

  14. Cindy: I’ve missed so many of your wonderful blogs. I love, love the way you’ve told us so much about the Blue jay and yes indeed, I see the direct resemblance to many a congressman I’ve dealt with (even some I haven’t had to deal with). You have a wonderful sense of storytelling and photography going here. I’ve really missed you.
    Tom had emergency heart surgery and I’ve been away from the keyboard for far too long and oh how I’ve missed the glory of your photos and stories that always refreshed my weary soul before bedtime. Sheri

    1. Your baaaack!!! Hooray! I missed you! Oh poor Tom and poor you. I so wish fate would lighten up on Tom…..He’s had too many challenges, as have you! I am sending healing hopes, prayers and energy both your ways and respectfully asking for you both to have some peace and quiet. I wish it was up to me and you both would. Hugz to Sheri and much love too~

  15. Great pictures, as usual! We have the Western scrub jays here, and they taunt me with their sneakiness, meaning that they always show when I don’t have my camera ready. I’ve been hoping for the better part of a year to get a good shot, but obviously haven’t been dedicated enough to get it done well. They are beautiful birds, smart, saucy, and big enough to be intimidating to the others. As your photos show, the attitude seems to be the same, whether East or West jays. πŸ™‚

    1. I know exactly what you mean about how they evade the camera. I truly think they know how gorgeous they are and they don’t want to attract attention to themselves, making them difficult to photograph. Can’t wait to see your jays when the opportunity presents itself! Cheers to you and thanks~

  16. 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.

    1. I do think we must give the handsome Jay most of the credit, but for heavens sake don’t tell them, it will go to their already confident heads!!! πŸ˜‰

  17. 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.

    1. 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~

  18. The photos alone are awesome, but your choice of commentary and the interesting connections make it all so much fun. Those birds are gorgeous!

    1. 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~

  19. 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.

  20. 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. πŸ™‚

    1. 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!!! πŸ˜‰

    1. 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~

      1. 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!

      2. 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.

  21. They are such gorgeous looking birds, you’ve captured them well Cindy! They have a real punk hair thing going on!! πŸ˜€ 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! πŸ™‚

    1. 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!

  22. 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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