Plight of the Blue Jay

How loud does a blue jay screech? Extra loud, if he's stuck in your three season porch:

We've had a lot of birds take up residence here this summer: woodpeckers, chickadees, catbirds, cedar waxwings, and cardinals have all moved in, in addition to the usual robins and sparrows. Kirk even saw a humming bird in the perennial border, though it was too fast for us to get a photo. I think they all took advantage of the power vacuum left by Fletch's absence, and somehow they all manage to get along despite the presence of many blue jays.

In case you're not familiar, blue jays are mean. I've seen them keep crows at bay, and they screech and scratch and generally bully anything else with feathers. 

And we have a lot of them this summer, picking away at some of our grapes and pole beans. 

But how did one end up inside? Cooper must have caught it and dragged it in through the cat door. He then proceeded to play with it for what must have been most of the afternoon:

If you look closely, you'll notice that Mr. Blue Jay has only a single tail feather left. He must have fought back:

Cooper seems unable to make a clean kill of much of anything larger than a mouse. To be fair, he is an excellent mouser, and he politely drops them near his food dish almost daily, presumably to trade up for delicious cat food. He's also nabbed a bird or two.

Last week, we saw him running around the garden after something. His favorite thing to chase are grasshoppers, but since he wasn't jumping and twisting in the air (which is hilarious and viral-video worthy if I could manage to catch it on camera), we took a closer look.

He had cornered a rabbit in a tomato cage and sat just staring at it, nearly nose to nose. I almost got a picture of that, but Cooper flushed the rabbit out right before I snapped the photo. He chased it down to the potatoes, then sat panting and watching it. The rabbit, meanwhile, was too terrified to move.

A close look at the rabbit revealed that Cooper had torn a flap of skin off its thigh, but otherwise declined to finish him off.

Rabbit screams are not pretty, and Kirk decreed this an animal kingdom issue.

After dinner we saw that the rabbit had moved to the swing set, frozen on place under the tower while Cooper sat on a platform above, switching his tail and just looking at the heavily panting rabbit.

Cooper got bored and decided to mess up our game of badminton instead; the rabbit hopped to the fence and eventually wriggled away. I don't know if it will survive its wound, but I'm not terribly sympathetic: that bastard has been nibbling our parsnips and ruined our Brussels sprouts:

Anyway, once it became clear that Cooper had no interest in finishing off the blue jay (and after several minutes of listening to the bird call back and forth to its mate up in one of the back trees, which made me feel bad, even though these bastards eat other birds' eggs), Kirk put on some gloves and armed himself with a five-gallon bucket and a badminton racket. 

We propped open the door, and after a couple tries the bird flew out and sat for a while on the bean house, where he was probably mapping out tomorrow's breakfast. After a bit, he flew to one of the trees out back. He didn't seem too much worse for wear, though it looked like he had trouble flying straight without much of a rudder left.

Still, I'm hoping that word gets around the animal kingdom that if you mess around the potager, you might get maimed. 


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