In Which the Baby Blue Jay Gets Ready to Fly!
The blue jays built a nest in the big bushes by the deck this year, and my husband has been keeping a close eye on it. He feeds the birds and puts water out for them, and trellises for them to sit on, and when there are nests, he talks to the babies while they are in them. He's like the godfather to our yard birds.
So he has been chatting it up with the Mama Blue Jay and the two baby jays who appeared in the nest. On this day, we were doing a few things around the yard, when he pointed out to me the baby blue jay who was now sitting OUTSIDE the nest on a nearby branch.
I grabbed my camera, of course, and went to try to get some pictures. First, I tried from in front of the bush. I caught a grumpy look or two on the little blue jay's face. When I went back out later, my husband encouraged me to try to get a shot from beside the bush, and that is how I got this photo.
The Mama Jay left the nest and sat on a branch high above, where she kept careful watch over my activities. She knows my husband and trusts him, so she did not try to attack; he is the bringer of chopped peanuts! (And when he puts peanuts out, he has watched the Mama Jay bring the chopped nuts to the babies.)
My husband reported that there were actually TWO little blue jays. The one, a bit bigger, he thought was the brother; the smaller one, a sister. Throughout the day, my husband went out and offered encouraging words to the birds. It was rainy and cold; a challenging day to be out and about.
And then as early evening rolled around, my husband was standing by the window watching the brother, when he reported that it had made a big jump to a lower branch. Then his eyes grew wide: as he watched, the little bird made its first flight, with the mother jay following after it!
I looked it up online, and as it turns out, baby jays leave the nest when they are 17 to 21 days old. The little birds may go as far as 75 feet away from the nest in the first day or two. The parents still watch over and feed the babies for about the next four to eight weeks.
The sister seems to have kept closer to the nest, but the brother has been flying all around the yard since then. I woke up this morning and looked out the window. A small blue form flew by, followed by the larger Mama Jay. The baby blue jays have left the nest!
The soundtrack song is this one: Tom Petty, with a little help from Stevie Nicks, with Learning to Fly.