Golly, Lioness it was so long ago seems like a galaxy far away... mid 1950's....
A windstorm broke off a tree limb that was carrying a nest. Only one hatchling survived the fall, the adult jays could only call frantically from above. So we took the little fellow into the house, not knowing what to do just warmed him up. He was all triangular beak and fuzz, as in the old Disney nature movies. Soon he was squawking for food whenever we got near. We tried cottage cheese and milk, added hard boiled egg yolk to the mix, he noisily downed a lot of it and after a few days seemed to thrive. He grew quickly, sprouted feathers and in a few weeks was attempting flight. Our mix probably was missing something because his wing feathers were scraggly, particularly the left one. His first few flights were left hand spirals to the floor, but after he figured out asymmetric flapping was able to navigate the house albeit at great expenditure of energy... Soon we shifted his diet to birdseed, which he enjoyed scattering about a four foot radius from his dish.
We had to move Jaybird from his perch in the kitchen into a cage for reasons of hygeine, but Mom let us play with him in the house a lot. He loved to sit on your head and stir his beak around in your hair, and would hop to your shoulder and root in your shirt pocket to see what's in there. He'd entertain a roomful of kids going from one to another, tugging at eyeglass hinges, hair, shirt buttons, earlobes,,whatever he could reach from a shoulder..
Jays are curious and will pick things up and hide them. It is amusing to watch a jay in a desk drawer, he'll throw the paperclips and peck apart the pencils. Cigarettes are immediately pecked apart and scattered. He loved to come to the breakfast table and steal Cheerios from my bowl, carrying them atop the curtain rod to eat them. One morning he got into the open bottle of vitamin pills - for years we found them stuffed into books and crevices in the furniture. Like a cat he would get right in the middle of anything you were focusing on. Once he was loose while we boys had a model airplane motor apart and, of course, the needle valve disappeared. Mom found it a few days later stuffed in jaybird's favorite dictionary, near a fossilized vitamin pill. He would wreck a game of monopoly, carrying off the houses and hotels and scattering the money. We kids loved it.
Jays imitate sounds - he learned that loud "whistle" that Dad used to call us in for dinner, he picked up a loud "shriek" from my sister and her friends' raucous laughter, and a few notes from "Peter and the Wolf". With a mix of bird and human sounds, all at full volume, Jaybird would commence to wake the household at sunrise - he wanted company and would keep it up until somebody came into the room.
Jaybird probably ate one of those vitamin pills for not long after the open bottle incident he blossomed out in magnificent new blue plumage with symmetric wingfeathers. His flying improved dramatically. After a few more months he began paying attention to birds at the feeder outside the kitchen window. We commenced setting his cage outside for an hour or two a day, and eventually opened his door. He made some forays into the trees but at first came back to his cage and food supply. His forays got longer and longer, finally one night he stayed out. We saw him at the feeder for a few days thereafter, then he just blended in with the other jays. But we heard his distinct "whistle" for some time.
So I've always a soft spot in my heart for bluejays and would not hesitate to raise another, especially if there are kids in the household.
Sorry for the essay, Lioness.
<small>[ 05-03-2005, 07:55 PM: Message edited by: analog ]</small>
Cogito ergo doleo.