Send in the Scrubs

Taking a quick recovery break from last night’s final long training run.  The IVS half is coming up in a week and start my taper tomorrow.  I wasn’t able to get the desired 10 mile run in due to a swarm of lightning that convinced me to bail out a mile early.  Last weekend a lightening bolt took a 5 inch chunk out of my neighbor’s huge oak tree from top to bottom –  a helpful reminder not to roll the dice with nature.  9 miles should be fine for race day prep .. besides, the last mile or so I was pushing it to make it back to the truck before it let loose.  Not one to just sit around just watching the boob tube (although the Illini are kicking butt), thought it would be a good time to crank out a post!

Unlike the previous post. today’s featured bird didn’t take long to lock in an identification.  If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, the birds of late have all been from our Red Rock Canyon in Nevada shoot.  This is a wonderful park not far from Las Vegas and a standard stop for us when we haul our photography equipment out there.  Definitely a good place to add to your Birding List if you are light on your land birds – which I happen to be at the moment… although building fast.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Western Scrub-Jay

Pretty cool looking bird with the white eyebrow liner and the white speckled in the throat area.  When the bird list was checked it was discovered that there was a question mark in the check box.  This usually means a possible ID was made but lacking a good confirmation.  Similar to the Gray Vireo and Townsend Solitaire which both have question marks in their check box until the bird in the previous post is officially confirmed (still looking for some help on that by the way).

The question indicator resulted in a quick search of the blog to figure out where it was previously referenced.  Looks like there were two possible sightings – one in 2008 (link here) and one in 2010 (link here).  Reviewing those two possible shots, the conclusion is neither one of those is a Western Scrub-Jay.  Not sure what the 2008 one is yet, but the 2010 is most likely a Clark’s Nutcracker.  So good news, I can replace that question mark with a solid check now.

Time for the classic EddieSoft pose…

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Western Scrub-Jay

The Western Scrub-Jay has a pretty narrow region compares to most of the birds I’ve been able to track down (with the exception of one uber-small region that will be featured in an upcoming post).  This bird pretty much hangs around the California through Nevada and Utah areas.  Always a plus when you can shoot a bird that is a bit rarer than the usual lot.  Pretty bummed I didn’t get to witness their call.  The Cornell website (link here) references an intriguing description  “naturalist W. L. Dawson in 1923: ‘No masquerader at Mardi Gras has sprung such a cacophonic device upon a quiveringly expectant public. Dzweep, dzweep: it curdles the blood, as it is meant to do’.'”  Wow, Either Dawson is taking some literary liberty or that is one hell of a call – of which there are at least 20 different ones.   Note, I did use the voice option on the Cornell site and I can agree that their call is unnerving – exactly what I imagined a clown encounter would sound like.

From further reading on the Cornell site my assessment is these birds are in the same category as our local Blue Jays – translated, “not nice”.   Not only do they steal food but also prey on the young of other bird.  Bad birdie very baaaad.  They will shadow adult birds to figure out where their nests are – sneaky bastards!    I did note they like fruit in the summer time which can be validated by the following picture.

This was an interesting tidbit learned from our friends over at Wikipedia – this bird is considered high on the intelligence scale due to the brain to body mass ratio.  This ratio rivals Chimpanzees and “dwarfed” only by humans.  Sneaky and smart, so they are equivalent to evil clowns.  .  Continuing that interesting fact, the Scrub-Jay is the only non-primate that has the trait to plan ahead with the ability to manage over 200 food locations.   Now for the even spookier trait learned from Wikipedia – they will summon others to screech (up to a half hour) over the body of a dead Jay.  This brought up a vision of “The Crow” which ended up being an ironic correlation since Scrub-Jays are in the family Corvids which .. wait for it … also contains Crows – spooky.

I mentioned earlier that these birds manage food caches.  In the digital dark room I originally took the following shot to show the bird’s nesting habits and possibly bringing food to its young.  Based on Cornell, they nest in standard twig based contraptions 6 to 14 feet high  in oak (or similar) trees.  Based on that new fact, changing my original assessment and going with filling a  food cache instead.

That’s all I have for now on this unique looking bird.  Hope you enjoyed reading about – I sure enjoyed replacing that question mark in my birding list.

2 thoughts on “Send in the Scrubs”

  1. A totally new bird to me, thanks. I did listen to their calls at the link you provided, and it’s pretty annoying that’s for sure. If my kids when they were babies had sounded like the juvenile calls on that page I would have given them away immediately.

    That first shot reminds me of an archetype you might see in a birding guide. Very nice shot!



  2. Definitely an annoying call – eesh. .. okay, I laughed out loud at the kid comment. I will keep that line handy for one of their special occasions or toasts.

    Thank you – thought it gave a nice view of the key features of this bird. I must say, you are on quite the role of comments!!!


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