Cheeky Scrub Jay

This young scrub jay patiently followed its cheeky parent around even though they kept dropping bark on its head. The young bird was waiting to be fed but maybe it should be thinking about leaving the nest soon. ūüôā

Weekly Photo Challenge – Cheeky

Giving art wings: Calming through creating

giving art wings Woodhouse's scrub jay Aphelocoma woodhouseii by Siobhan Sullivan Nov 2016
Stress and chaos can take parts of you away; creating art helps to bring it back.

I decided I needed to spend some time giving art wings. Here’s a painting of a scrub jay that I worked on¬†this week. It helped me cope¬†with some of my stress. Jays are one of my favorite birds and the most common one in my neighborhood seemed to be the perfect subject. Click¬†¬†here¬†to see another of my jay paintings and to read an entertaining post about jays.

Jays – A bird always a part of my life

Blue Jay by Siobhan Sullivan
Blue Jay

Jays have insisted on being a part of my life since I was a young child. They are brash, bold, raucous, and not easily ignored.

As a five-year old living on a wooded lot in Maryland, the Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata,  introduced itself to me with little formality. Its loud voice and striking appearance said, “Notice me!” Its frequent companion, the Northern Cardinal, also made it hard for me to look away. I guess that must be why I have a thing for birds with crests on top of their heads.

When I moved back across the country to Washington State, I met more Jays. On camping trips with my family, the Gray Jay, Perisoreus canadensis,  made its kleptomaniac presence known. Otherwise known as the Camp Robber, this gray bird has a way of sneaking in and taking what it wants.

Gray Jays, Yellowstone NPk
Gray Jays

I had a boyfriend in high school named Jay. One winter I was out of town for a couple of weeks and when I came back he broke up with me. He told me he had started going out with “Mary” while I was gone. He said he had gone outside in the middle of the night and shouted to the world how much he loved Mary. Like I said, Jays have a way of being loud and taking what they want.

Steller's Jay, Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.
Steller’s Jay

The next Jay played an important role in my life for many years. Steller’s Jays, Cyanocitta stelleri, are a deep azure blue topped with a black crested head. They like to imitate Red-Tailed Hawks and other birds. Steller’s Jays also have an appetite for other bird’s eggs and young. They especially like to prey on the endangered marbled murrelet, a small seabird that breeds in inland forests. While working on a project to preserve a forest where murrelets nested, I learned more about the football-shaped seabirds and their predation by jays than I knew about any pigskin football.

Western Scrub Jay, Bend, Oregon
Western Scrub Jay

The latest Jay in my life is the Western Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica . When we first considered moving to the high desert of Oregon, I remember looking at potential houses and thinking, “What is that bird I keep seeing?” The bird raised its white eyebrows, cocked its head, and regarded me curiously. When we found the place we eventually bought, the blue, white, and gray Western Scrub Jays were in the backyard shouting a welcome.

Jays, with their distinctive appearance and mannerisms, always seem to be a part of my life.