It's overcast today and rain threatens. And I wonder about the birds and creatures of the high country.
When it gets cold up there, some of them come down into our valley, so I'm watching.
And here's our first wintering bird, a scrub jay, all dressed in blues and grays: a handsome bird indeed. He's checking out our new Pyracantha shrub that replaced our aspen when it was obviously sickening. Nothing to eat there . . . now over to the trumpet vine and nothing edible there either. He hops up on the two-foot tall "mock rock" that we put over the septic tank connections. Nothing to eat, but a great place to display ... first to the east side of the rock, now over to the west side. Flutter and fluff the feathers, hop about and begin to preen.
What a show-off!
The tail and wings are bright blue, the belly is nearly white, the bill and legs are dark. There's a blue band from the back of the neck and around the breast that contrasts the brown back. The chin is white, and there's a dark gray-brown area around the eye with a thin white eyebrow.
Early on I attempted to make clues to try to remember the birds. To me, this jay looked as if he'd had his breast scrubbed. Now I've learned that "scrub" is a noun coming from Middle English meaning a "shrub." This led back to Old Norse "skroppa" referring to a stunted tree or shrub. So our birds' common name is from the habitat, Scrub Oak, rather than his pale breast. The scientific name is Aphelocoma californica and this gives me a clue: "coma" means hair and "alphelo" turns out to be "smooth" or "plain." So this jay has "smooth hair" or no crest as we see in Steller's Jay or the Eastern Blue Jay.blog comments powered by Disqus