Jay. Jay Pie. Jay Piet. Figure 10. [top left]

Varioud bird eggs

In scientific language Corvus glandarius, or Garrulus glandarius ; the specific name is from the Latin, and signifies of or belonging to acorns; the second generic name is also Latin, and means chattering or talkative, a leading characteristic of this bird, whose harsh cry is frequently heard amid the stillness of the solitary woods.

"Proud of cerulean stains

From heaven's unsullied arch purloined,

The Jay screams hoarse,"

says Gisborne, in his "Walks in a Forest," and all persons who are accustomed to woodland scenery, must have been startled, ever and anon, by the grating syllables wrak, wrak , shortly and sharply repeated by this bird, and have noticed the dull gleam of its blue wings, as it passed in a heavy scurrying manner from tree to tree, or shuffled away down the glade, as though it had committed some crime, and was fearful of being taken.

The Blue-winged Jay is a name commonly given to this certainly handsome bird, whose plumage of delicate brown, variegated with white and black, and set off with "cerulean stains," as Gisborne says, give it a striking and pleasing appearance, notwithstanding its general air of dullness and apprehension. It is true, we seldom have an opportunity of observing it closely, except in a state of confinement, where it is not likely to be very lively, for it is a bird of the wild woods, and likes not to be deprived of its free range, and brought into close companionship with man. Sometimes, however, if taken young and properly trained, it becomes a very amusing domestic pet, having a decided talent for mimicry, and being gentle and teachable.

The nest of the Jay is commonly built in a high coppice wood, or hedge, generally many feet from the ground, although it is seldom seen near the tops of tall trees, like those of the Magpie and Crow. Montagu says, "He who feels inclined to study the nidification of this bird, must search the lower branches of the oak, or inspect the woodbine mantling round the hazel."

Morris describes the nest as "of an open shape, formed of twigs and sticks, and well lined with small roots, grasses, and horse-hair. Some are much more cleverly constructed than others." And certainly from the representation which he gives of one, we should take the Jay to be a much neater builder than any of its congeners, as birds of the same family or genus would be called.

The eggs are five or six in number, of a greenish or yellowish white, freckled all over with two shades of light brown.

Several variations from this common pattern have been found and described, some being lighter and some darker, and some having a greater degree of polish on them than others.

The Jay is an omnivorous feeder; but is said to have a great partiality for acorns; and also for the eggs and young of game-birds, hence he is shot without mercy by those interested in their preservation.

Let us see what Bishop Mant says of him.

"He who makes his native wood

Resound his screaming, harsh and rude,

Continuously the season through;

Though scarce his painted wing you'll view

With sable barred, and white and grey,

And varied crest, the lonely Jay!"

(Cyanocitta stelleri macrolopha.)
Nearly Life-size.

The Long-Crested Jay

(Cyanocitta stelleri macrolopha.)

The family (Corvidae) of birds to which the long-crested jay belongs includes not only the jays but also the crows, the ravens, the magpies and the rooks. It is a cosmopolitan family with the exception that no representatives are found in New Zealand. It includes over two hundred species of which about twenty-five are inhabitants of North America. Strictly speaking, none of the species are migratory, excepting those whose range carries them to regions of severe winters. Some of the species are well protected by soft and thick coats of down and feathers, and as they are generous in their selection of food, eating varieties that may be procured at any season, they do not need to move from place to place but may remain resident throughout the year.

The jays differ from the crows in their method of progression on the ground, hopping instead of walking. They are distinctly arboreal in their habits, and usually have a bright-colored plumage, blue being the most common. Their heads are often crested. Though found nearly throughout the world their highest development seems to have been reached by those species that are resident in the warmer portions of America.

The jays are noisy and quarrelsome, fretting apparently for the most insignificant reasons. They are great mimics and exhibit a high degree of intelligence. The jay possesses a variety of notes and calls, and is a notable borrower of those of some other species of birds. This versatility has given rise to the very appropriate name of the sub-family in which they are included, the Garrulinae, from the Latin word garrio, meaning to prattle.

Our illustration shows the color and markings of the long-crested jay. Its home is in the wooded regions of the southern Rocky Mountains, southern Arizona and the northwestern portion of Mexico. It breeds throughout this range.

Dr. Coues has said regarding this bird that it is "a stranger to modesty and forbearance, and the many qualities that charm us in some little birds and endear them to us; he is a regular fillibuster, ready for any sort of adventure that promises sport or spoil, even if spiced with danger." In spite of these characteristics they are very quiet during the nesting season and the female is very devoted to her nest and will almost allow herself to be touched before flying from her eggs. Their nests are bulky and usually placed in out-of-the-way places, in low, bushy, cone-bearing trees. They seemingly will eat anything of a nutritious nature. Flying insects, larvae, beetles, flies, spiders, eggs, and even small birds, seem to be palatable to their tastes. Yet they are principally vegetarians feeding upon seeds, hard fruits and berries when these are obtainable.

The Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), of which the long-crested form is a geographical variety, is a resident of the Northwestern portion of North America ranging from northern California to southern Alaska and eastward to the Cascade Mountains.