"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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The Bluejay Stickpin
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

There are many things about the bluejay that puzzle me--other bird species, too--but one of the strangest characteristics of “the robber” (my name for this bird) is the snow-white, elongated “stickpin” that is present in some members of this family.

I have searched in a number of ways to learn the significance of this natural phenomenon, but without success. I have looked for this information in many bird identification guides, but find information on the species nearly non-existent, or very limited. Nowhere have I found even a mention of the stickpin. My quest for many years has included Peterson, which I always count heavily on in bird books, and the Audubon Society series. Birds of Indiana offers some good information on the robber, but no mention of the stickpin.

The jay, as we know it, is a beautiful blue and white bird (some black, it seems), but the pure white streak contrasts well in the middle of the gray breast. It could hardly be overlooked by any observer. It is about 1½ inches long (vertical) and a little less than half an inch wide. The snow-white quadrangle on a beautiful gray breast is very obvious, even to an untrained eye.

I like bluejays very much, in spite of their raucous behavior and robbing young of other birds’ nests. It’s nature at its best. But several times over the years I have loaded my little bird hunting 20-gauge and intervened by purposely shooting into the air when menacing jays came about other birds’ nests. I have done the same with crows.

Still, when you get to the nitty-gritty of this scenario, the offenders have to eat, if they are to live; it is part of the scheme of nature (life).

Bob Rice, an avid birdman, and fellow Hanoverian (class of ‘52, thank you) is emphatic in reminding me that bluejay sexes are the same. But Bob has no notion on the significance of the “stickpin,” while noting that he has observed it.

“It could denote a strain of the species, or it may separate young birds from old birds (or vice-versa),” he says. But he seriously doubts that the feature would separate male from female.

HERE N’ THERE--The Department of Natural Resources reports that no Indiana deer have tested positive for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). State agencies have been testing animals from Indiana’s deer herd since 2002 . . .
Frankfort, IN, March 12, 2008--The Central Indiana Frog Watchers will have very special guest Dave MacGowan of Chicago’s Ravenswood Media as the speaker for the March 12 meeting, 7 pm at Camp Cullom (near Frankfort, IN). Mr. MacGowan recently did a documentary called Caves: Life Beneath the Forest Floor about cave life in Southern Indiana. He is now working on a video about frogs and their calls hopefully to be released this year (during the Year of the Frog), called Songs of Spring. To see some clips of his videos, www.midwestfrogs.com www.cavebiota.com . . . 

This spring's reserved turkey hunts at Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Area in Johnson and Bartholomew counties have been cancelled because of conflicts with military training exercises. Hunters who have already applied for a reserved hunt at Atterbury JMTA will be able to reapply for an alternate reserved hunt. The DNR offers reserved turkey hunting dates at 18 DNR properties and two national wildlife refuges during the 2008 spring turkey season. The reservation deadline is March 14.

The 2008 spring turkey season runs April 23 to May 11. Youth spring turkey season is April 19 and 20. Additional details by phone: 317-232-4080, DFW.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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