Oct 17 2011

In Which a Sharpie Learns He’s the Same Size as a Jay

Published by at 7:17 am under Bird Behavior,Birds of Prey

Yesterday at the lake at Moraine State Park I saw some blue jays across the cove.  I didn’t pay much attention until I heard an unusual noise coming from their direction.  Was there a green heron over there?

I checked with my binoculars.  No green heron.  Just three blue jays and an immature sharp-shinned hawk. 

The jays were having fun.  The hawk was not.

The blue jays loafed in the trees and waited for the hawk to attack.  The sharpie swooped but the jays always evaded him.  One jay in particular taunted the hawk by flying close and allowing the hawk to chase him.  This must have given the jay an adrenaline rush because the sharpie was faster and sometimes nearly tagged the jay.  At those exciting moments the jay made a green heron noise.

This game went on for 20 minutes.  The hawk could not win.  He was exactly the same size as the blue jays and his speed and anger were no match for their cunning brains.  The sharpie burned a lot of energy but he was not going to quit.

It ended when the “green heron” jay got bored and flew away.

At last the sharp-shinned hawk could focus on finding a meal of an appropriate size.

(Immature sharp-shinned hawk and blue jay; both photos by Marcy Cunkelman)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “In Which a Sharpie Learns He’s the Same Size as a Jay”

  1. Peteron 17 Oct 2011 at 8:34 am

    Those clever corvids! Sounds like quite the show.

  2. Marcy Con 17 Oct 2011 at 10:06 am

    Let me tell you about the time the Immature Sharpie did get a Blue Jay…this happened at our old place some 30 years ago, but something you will never forget…the Sharpie grabbed the Jay from the feeder, tried flying with it, and had to stop about 6 times before it flew down toward the creek…landed in a tree and started taking off the breast feathers…well it flew down to the ice covered creek, held it in a small hole and drowned the Jay…flew up on the other side of the bank and had breakfast…really wish I had the camera back then…you just never know what you will see…SAPSUCKER today!!!

  3. Joshon 17 Oct 2011 at 1:07 pm

    lol Macy, I saw a juvenile yellow-bellied sapsucker yesterday and didn’t have my camera on hand either.

  4. Jennieon 17 Oct 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I love this story, Kate! It was a hard lesson for the young Sharpie to learn, but one that should stick.

  5. Lauren Conkleon 18 Oct 2011 at 11:27 am

    Jays are fun to watch but they can be annoying at times. Once I had a sharpie in a tree nearby and I was creeping toward it carefully so I could get a better look. Suddenly, a jay I didn’t know was there swooped in and chased my sharpie away, ruining my chance to get a satisfying look. Oh well. I did get to see that the two birds were similar in size, and I can’t really blame the jay for wanting to kick the hawk out of his territory.

  6. Marge Van Tasselon 24 Oct 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Blue jays have often fooled me into thinking a red-tail or red-shouldered hawk is nearby and just when I think I’ve spotted it — lo and behold it is a BLUE JAY not the hawk I was hoping to see. Not long ago in Yellow Creek while hearing a Red-shoulders cry 7 of us kept watch feeling we may have been fooled by a blue jay as there were so many shrieking in the woods on Obs. Trail but eventually we did see the Red-shoulder hawk. Such a beautiful hawk it is, too. Sharpies have taken house sparrows and other smaller birds off my feeders but never saw a blue jay as a meal.

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