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
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.