My YouTube Videos

Friday, December 7, 2007

A morning at the beach

I shot this at Seabright Beach, a place Blue's loves to go in the summer when his wings are clipped.

The lake behind the beach brings in many rare birds. I found a great While Egret with its baby on this beautiful morning. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The telephone

Blue has been fascinated by the telephone, both cell and manual since he was able to fly. His first trill he learned from the phone. He now has taught himself which button on the answering machine to push to listen to messages. That will be my next post. He loves to listen to the voices. He also is interested in anything he sees us use often. If it makes noise or has buttons, he enjoys it all the more, like the remote control on the TV.

This was his first cell phone experience. He was able to push 225 and send, which is the number on my cell that tells me my balance.

Blue is doing great. An easy food for both babies and adults is pure liquefied vegetables, baby food. Carrots, yams, this is a great way to make sure they get their veggies and not just nuts. He also enjoys being catered to and hand fed. Blue is out most all of the day since I am home often working. He always makes sure he knows where I am and follows me around the house from room to room. Although he takes a great deal of affection, he also gives a great deal of it.

Since the video is short its in high quality it works well in full screen mode.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back by request - Blue Plays Ball!

Blue now plays this game daily. This video is us teaching him, his first time playing with them. He now hits them in order, by color. We play each morning. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NUTS - Blue Going Nuts

This is a video of Blues average first few hours. He eats and then attends his nuts as the birds outside battle at the feeder. I am not feeling great as I have been ill, so my guitar playing in the background is me freestyle playing.


Notice how Blue hides and re-hides nuts, and even checks and throws some out. Blue even arranges the nuts in his feeding dish. The birds at the feeding dish is Blues view. Today one of our finches got loose, flew right to Blue who protected her...


NUTS


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blue is back!


Hi Folks,

It’s been a long time since I have posted. Illness and other things have prevented me from spending the time to post that I normally do. Also its fall and the rescue e-mails have ended. We, by sharing information saved 80 birds last year, with only 2 deaths. Taking in a rescue that cannot be released is a big decision. These animals take allot of attention. There is information here is you find a Scrub Jay, and animal rescue wont help. The emergency diets are meant for baby birds.

Blue is doing great. His flight feathers have fully returned and he flies from room to room with ease again, despite being blind in one eye. I have been very ill and at home a great deal. He sticks to me like glue. Sometimes he gets so excited when I bring him a treat or something and he starts this song and dance that he normally does to hand signals. Here is the latest. I am working on a video of his nut hiding capabilities. You might notice Blue's beak is a little too long. I normally wait to trim it to see if he will take care of it himself. In his youth he would. I trimmed it today and he still sang 5 minutes later. He also got a good nail trim. He is used to this and even invites the attention. Blue is now ten + years old and I have had him since he was one or two days old.

Blue knows when I am sad or ill; he knows when I need to be left alone. He knows when I am in pain. His displays of empathy are amazing. This is from today when I went to give him half a grape. He broke into dance. I also used my hand signals. He is finally getting used to the camera, which he did not like before. Enjoy this short clip; the end is him doing his sun trance bath. There is extensive video in older posts of this fascinating scene. Blue loves the fan which stays off, but he falls asleep on it and has learned to make it spin, also in video to come.

The Dance is a show of affection, a mixture of what they do in the wild and he is also imitating sounds I make to him. Sometimes I can make him dance by making a clicking sound with my mouth.

video

Friday, August 31, 2007

Attack of the Copper Hawk

Attack of the Copper Hawk

Yesterday I was on the phone while Blue was resting quietly in his cage. As fall approaches, new birds have appeared at the feeder. This morning we finally started to get Scrub Jays again. Since we moved only a block away, we have had none all summer despite using every known trick to attract them. We have been blessed with many other types of birds we have never seen before.

As I was talking to my sister, I heard a loud “bang!” and Blue started shrieking his call of distress and fear. I looked up and it took a moment to focus on the mammoth bird now attached to my screen, wings spread, a giant Cooper Hawk. He saw the other birds, spotted Blue, and went in for the kill. Of course, the thick glass window stopped him. However, he clung for a moment. I am sure the knock surprised him too. Blue was shrieking and I dropped the phone. My instinct was to go or the camera, but Blue was very upset. He could have injured himself if I did not get him out of his cage. The Copper Hawk took a full minute to rest on the porch, perched proudly on the side rail of our balcony. Then he flew off to better hunting grounds.

Blue was frightened to death. He clung to me all day. I had to block his view of the outside to be able to allow him back in his cage. This worked and he began to play and act normal. The return of the Scrub Jays this morning also brightened his spirits. He loves to hide peanuts while they hide theirs.

Blue is flying again. He now flies all over the house and we set up places he can easily roost and hide peanuts. They always like to be higher then everyone else. We only let him fly when we are home and fans and stoves are off.

Hawks do not frequent this area, but I have to admit. I have been too nervous to take him out for his sunbath. I can just imagine a hawk seeing him in such a venerable state and plucking him from me as I watched helplessly. I will wait a few days to make sure this hawk does not return. They are known to be very ballsy and sometimes stubborn.

My sister has an aviary outside. It’s huge and contains Cockatiels. Made of wood and heavy metal screening, the hawk could not get inside. However, he tried for weeks until my sister covered the aviary until the Hawk gave up. It did injure one bird that recovered.

This was in an area that is prime hunting ground for hawks. Yet this Hawk opted to stay for a week and spend nearly all day studying the aviary.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Garden Party

Today I caught Blue singing softly to a young wild House Finch. He enjoys watching the other bird battle over food, and bask in the sun. From Starlings to Canaries, we get many birds to the feeder, but the Red Wing Black Birds rule the whole area like a gang. Watch how the young Starling stands up to the larger Red Wing and wins!

The dove you will see may look injured. I assure you its not. It is sunbathing, much as Blue does without the trance like state. The red wings push around the doves, but they find times where they can rule the garden too.

The Song is called Struggle and was by my old Band WildRose. I am singing backup and playing lead and rhythm guitar. Enjoy!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Blue a rescued Scrub Jay doing rarley seen Sun Trance

This is some of the best footage of Blue doing the sun trance. Its natural and how they get the sun to their feathers. Rarely seen in the wild, Blue does this daily. Sometimes he outspreads his wings, but on this day decided to plop down and puff up.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scrub Jay Blue does amazing song and dance

In the wild this is a mating dance. Blue mimics some of the whistles I make, and does this to hand signals. Often, he will open his wings and dance.

Were on Vacation!!

For those of you who frequent my site or for those who have found a Scrub Jay in need of a rescue, I will be unavailable to answer questions until July 24th. I am taking a small vacation. Speaking of vacations, what do you do with a Scrub Jay when you want to take a vacation?


This is tricky. Often they are not comfortable with new people. If you have a friend who knows your bird, and they can come once a day and play and care for the bird, you have a good friend. In my case, all my friends are leaving this same weekend. But, we were lucky to find a co-worker and friend of Katie's who Blue took to immediately. This will make my vacation a real vacation where I do not have to be concerned for Blue.


I would like to apologize to a few people who have emailed me that I failed to respond to. I have become ill, and for the last month unable to do much. I am hoping the relaxing in the woods and on the beach will help relax me as I recover.


For all you Scrub Jay fanatics (like me) more studies on the inteligance of Scrub Jays continues, even into precognition, which I have wittneesed. Blue knows when my girlf friend is going to come home ten minutes before she arrives, even at differant times and days. I have videoed his behavior prior to my girlfirend getting in her car, a ten minute drive. He gets overly excited and starts hoping all over. Then he hears her car and does his "Happy Trill" Scrubs have been elevated in their status of inteligence, being one of the most inteligent birds there are. This includes Crows and Ravens which are all in the same family.


I have seen Blue show empathy, sadness, joy, he knows when I am sick and when I am feeling good. Blue is getting old, but unlike dogs he can learn a new trick in only a few minutes and remember it.


For those whos birds are reaching maturity. Its good to find a place up high in your house where the bird can roost. They want to be highere then everyone else. If you do this, your bird will be content to sit high above everyone for hours. Give him some hiding places and peanuts and shinny SAFE objects, and he will be a happy bird.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mistakes I have made.


The mistakes I have made

I have had Blue nearly nine years. During that time, I have made my share of mistakes. I would like to share a few of them with you so maybe , you will not do what I did.

The first mistake I made was when he was just about one year old. I had to move and took him outside in a travel cage to take him to the new pad. I tripped, and accident but I should have been more careful. The cage fell apart.

Blue flew immediately, startled by his new huge flying area, he crashed in the bushes. He then flew as I ran to him up into a tree with 50 Scrubs in it. My heart was pounding. I could not tell who was who. Suddenly they all turned on him, he smelled and talked wrong. With all the commotion, I could see very little, and suddenly, all the birds flew off in an instant -- Blue was gone.

I was devastated but told myself I would stay there until he came back. I looked around and found him hiding near me in a covered garage. When he saw me, he flew into my chest. Home at last. His little heart pounded in my hand. He was happy to be home, and never few away outside again, despite one more cage drop, a year later in yet another move. I have a horrible back, and it gives out at times that are not always good timing.

The next mistake I made was doing the dishes with Blue on my shoulder. A noise startled him and he landed in the soapy water, he was ok, but cold and I had to use a blow dryer on low to fix him up. Had the water been hotter, he would have been seriously injured. Had it been a hot stove or a fan, things would have been much worse.

One whopper mistake was over clipping his wings. It was my first time. I did it because his sight in one eye was getting worse, and he wanted to hang out with me more then he wanted to fly. This part was true, and worked. However, because I did not learn enough on the proper cutting of flight feathers, I over cut his wings. This caused several long-term problems. One, it took away his flight for a year instead of a few months. The ramification was over growth of other feathers, causing him to be itchy and scratch as the new feathers grew. It also changed his personality, he was more nervous with his eyesight now gone in one eye. He is finally over this. Blue can fly again. However, I caused him much stress, and had I simply asked better questions or had someone else do it, this would have never happened.

I am sure I have made many other mistakes, were all-human.

I know the few people who kept birds this year are in one of the best and hardest times of your companion’s life. The bird needs and wants to fly, it is weaning of liquid food, and you are trying to figure out how to work it all. My advice is to let your bird fly as much as you can, at least three hours a day, inside. Never take him outside unless his wings are cut. Make up games to play, pick the quarter out of your hand in flight. Give the bird stuff to shred up that will not hurt him. Give him shinny treats to hide. Make places in his environment to hide nuts and other treasures. I will do a video post on clipping flight feathers soon, its only three feathers, and you do not clip much.

Birds like to be in the highest place in the room. If your birds will not settle down, try giving him a perch far above everything else in the house. They love to sit proudly higher then the rest of us.

Moreover, remember, we all make mistakes, and we can only keep our promise to try our best. If it ends up you cannot provide the type of care you thought you could, its time to think of taking the birds to and agency. I do not say this lightly, but it happens and can be necessary. If things are getting hard, hang in there and experiment, these birds hate being bored. As a child who will plays with a cardboard box for hours, so will a Scrub given the right toys.

This Tree Blue is in is outside, but an inside tree makes a great place for your bird to hang out, just make sure its a safe tree.

I have learned a great deal from al off your emails and comments. Thanks to you all who have contributed your stories.

Tim Rumford

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Let the Scrub Jay games begin!

This video shows Blue playing ball. This has now become his favorite pass time. That was his training and in two days, he has learned to hit each ball in order, and then he gets them back. He also plays with them by himself, which is great when no one is home. He is even learning their colors, which surprised me, you can teach an old Jay a new trick.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pictures needed for study by the University of Nebraska


Stephen Vantassel, Project Coordinator, at Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln School of Natural Resources answered some questions I had about the legality of killing scrub jays when they are damaging crops. I will be posting this information later as I learn more about the specific laws in California. He has requested any photographs of Scrub Jays, in high def, at differing stages of life.

All of you have sent me many great photos, but I am asking those who have Scrubs, or even see them in their backyard to send me photographs in digital format, at the highest quality your camera will take.

This is important to their research in many ways, but most important is finding non-lethal ways of keeping them from destroying certain crops. I ask all of you please try to help. Any pictures in high definition will be greatly appreciated by the University and me. They must be 3 mega pixels or more. Please let me know if I have permission to post these photos here as well. I will respect anyone who does not wish their photography to be posted, but will forward the pictures to the University.

This is a chance for us Scrub Jay lovers to help this species in a larger way then this blog has in the past. Lets get to work!

Friday, June 8, 2007

New features and information - diets and tips for what to do when you find Scrub Jay in need of a rescue


With summer upon us, many people are writing in for advice, all with different birds in different stages – all with different issues. We have helped 80 people with birds. I say we, because I learn from all of you too.

This is our latest rescue sent in from Andrew Knight. He will make a great caretaker and companion for his new friend who would not survive if released where he lives.

All the rescues have been Scrub Jays, accept Nessa. She has an incredible ability to find Scrubs and Crows covered in a mystery oil. She cleans them and saves them along with other birds in need of help.

For those that do not know, they are the in the same species as the Crow.

There is a permanent link on the top right of the blog, a post on what to do if you find a Scrub Jay in need of rescue. I will be adding quick tips there for people who just found a bird. Part of the post talks of making the right decision on keeping the bird or not. Most of the time its better to let them go back to their parents -- however, this is not always possible. Some rescue agencies will not take them. They cannot be kept long and still be released. Although one thing we have learned, there are exceptions to every rule. People have e-mailed who have a partial custody arrangement. The bird comes back at night to feed, sleep, and then back out with its original family during the day. One boy has had a Scrub Jay he rescued that flies free all the time and comes and goes at it pleases, but spends most of its time with him. I know of a Crow that has become very close to an Autistic child. This shows how social and smart these birds truly are.

The first thing when you get bird in trouble is determine if its injured, it may only be stunned and be fine in minutes. Put it in a dim lit box, padded with soft cloth or cotton.

They need to eat as babies every thirty minutes during the day. They sleep all night. The get all water from food until they can eat non-liquefied food.

Emergency diet ( Cant get to store in time)

Water

Dry Cat Food

Hard Boiled Egg Yolk

Mix and liquefy. Feed with a feeder or small spoon if necessary.

A good diet –

Mix and liquefy the following as directed below

Water

Exact

Dry Cat Food

Hard Boiled Egg Yolk

Mealworms

Boiled carrots, very soft

Mix the product EXACT with crushed up dry cat food. 70% exact 15% % cat food; add 15% egg yolk, hard-boiled. . Crush the cat food up very fine. Use good cat food, no fancy flavored moist treats -- regular cat food. Add water until it is like watery oatmeal.

You can also add

Crushed up meal worms

Boiled carrots, very soft

As the bird matures, they will start to be able to eat tidbits of all the above ingredients. Start with mealworms or egg yolk as a good natural food when he or she is old enough. They will drink regular water as soon as they are old enough to eat non-liquefied food.

It is very important to keep a very constant and steady diet. It is like feeding a baby; they will let you know when they are hungry. They will stop when they are done. You are more likely to underfeed a baby then over feed it, which in Blue’s case, was not possible.

If you need more info or help with any Scrub Jay feel free to e-mail me, but I appreciate posts so everyone can learn. I am glad that Blue’s life has helped save so many other rescues. Most all have been released. The few that could not, have great responsible companions and caretakers. A few went to wildlife rescue centers. A few died, one in my hand, hit by a car it had a punctured lung. You are the people who care enough to seek out information instead of going it alone. Someone helped me when I found Blue, or he surly would have died. I am also posting some quick emergency tips and diets on the right side soon for quick access.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Today is your Birthday Nessa! A tribute to the queen of the birds – 6-04-07

Today is Nessa’s Birthday. Nessa has been writing me for sometime. I call her the queen of the birds, because she is always saving them. Nessa now defender of distressed birds has rescued and released many, even a few Crows. Out of the hundreds of e-mails received from people wanting or sharing information about a rescued bird, Nessa has been my favorite. One reason, she is very rational and has made all the right choices when deciding to keep or release a bird.

Her first rescue was a small Scrub Jay. It was injured. She could not release it, but also was concerned for its injury. She learned about taking care of such a bird, and what it would entail. She then decided to get it some professional help, despite knowing they may take the bird away from her. Instead, because the bird would not likely ever be able to be released, they must have seen her as a good caretaker. They are allowing her to keep it after it heals up.

During her wait for her new companion, she has saved more birds then I can count, releasing all of them safely. Many covered in oil, a few were Crows. Unable to find the source of the oil, she managed to wash the birds, and release them back to their families once healed. Washing wild oil covered crows, even a baby is no easy task, and she did it many times.

I would like to wish Nessa a very Happy Birthday and thank her for saving so many birds in such a responsible manor. She truly is the queen of the birds to me. In addition, Nessa is a very talented artist who never ceases to surprise me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NESSA! WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Here is Nessa’s young Scrub Jay, which will be returned to her care very soon.


Save Schwan Lake!

Today this post is a little off topic but, I know Blue would approve. I live nearby two lakes that have a plethora of sea and lake birds, from Cormorants to Herons, they come and live in these environments. The lake is beautiful, but so contaminated, signs say not to even touch it. I videoed some of the nesting birds and surrounding struggling sea life. We also are having many dead birds wash ashore from starvation, said to be caused from a lack of the Algae they eat from warmer water temperatures. We also have too much of what they are calling Acid Algae. Its natural, but there is too much of it, it burns off the faces of sea lions. The pup in this video may seem cute, but he is stuck in the hot sun, while his mother is dying in the water.

I have written many state and local ecologists trying to find out the nature of the contamination , and what can be done about this lake.
I am altering this document. I was directing people to contact a county supervisor.
Although Supervisor Jan Beautz is not in charge of the lake, it is a county owned lake and within her district. Putting pressure on her is a good place to start. But I have learned much more sine then.

There is a detailed country document on this and other surrounding lakes. It explains where the contamination is coming from and what steps the county is taking. I do feel that this lake is getting less attention, but until I learn more people should return here, to get a full status on the lake as I learn more.

You can find learn allot by clicking here and reading this in depth report.

I will be adding other people to write your concerns to about this issue as I learn more about the real issues that have caused a lake to be so toxic, I can't touch it. I will write an update post soon.

Much of the contamination if from the birds themselves, mostly geese fecal mater. The rest is runoff and mass sewage spills. I was awe struck by the amount of spills we have had. its all in the report. Something must be able to be done though. The County is using some money to upgrade sewage lines and runoff areas.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I found Scub Jay what do I do? by Tim Rumford

If you find a bird and want some advice -- please post it as a question here, so everyone can learn and teach along the way. You do not need to be a member of Blogspot to post comments.

I want to thank everyone for the many e-mails I have received. With spring upon us, many people are writing in asking for information on what to do with a Scrub Jay after they have rescued one. When I found Blue, he was only a day old. Age is important in deciding what you should do, and what to decide.

I will be posting a diet for different aged birds that will be available as a permanent link soon.

First off, people need to know that if a bird can fly and it is just stunned. Keep it in a dark padded box for ten minutes. They almost allays wake up and fly away unharmed. If the bird can fly and has only minor injuries, do not associate with it on a social level as much as possible as it heals. Do not even let it see you if you can. Do not talk to it until you know if your keeping this bird. Wear gloves when feeding it. They imprint and bond to people at very quickly. They cannot be released once in your care for long. They will smell and sound wrong and the other jays will kill it.

If the bird has any serious injuries, call animal rescue. In many cases, there are good local non-profits or collages with agencies that will take the bird. The have the knowledge and resources to care for it and release it.

In some cases, they will allow you to keep it after it has healed if they feel you will take care of it and it cannot be released. It is illegal in California to keep a Scrub Jay without permission. Although sometimes right is right, law or not.

Deciding to keep Scrub Jay or a Crow or any intelligent bird is something someone should not make in hast. Make sure your going to give it a happy life. A sad caged bird is the horrible site. You cannot just put food in its cage and leave for the day. These are extremely social birds. Scrub Jays are in the Crow family. To keep one means a possible 12-year or longer commitment of spending hours a day with your bird. Talking, feeding, cleaning up after it and just paying constant attention to your companion will be a part of daily life. Blue spent 6 hours out of his cage a day minimum. Two hours were spent just playing. If you work all day, you are probably not a good candidate for having a Scrub Jay. Passing it off to someone else after it thinks you are its parent is a gamble. It may not even survive. The trauma and stress alone could kill it.

However, sometimes strange things happen. One person who wrote in has a shared custody of sorts. They let the bird go after a few days of healing up, it flew to its family, and it returns every night to sleep and eat. They have good intentions and I think all will work out with this arrangement. Another person really took the time and made the perfect decision. She took it to a rescue agency and after the bird has healed, it will come home with her. She can visit daily to keep the bond going. She has the time and understands the responsibility.

I will be posting some pictures and video of these new pen pals of Blues. It will be interesting to see how their behavior differs.

I want to comprise a list of any rescue agency that accepts Scrub Jays in California and any information on their reputation. If you know of a good or bad agency please post it here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Down to seeds and stems

This is one the better videos of Blue and his environment and behavior, set to music by my old band Wild Rose. The song is "Down to Seeds and Stems" I am singing and playing guitar. Please let us know what you think. Comments are welcome and appreciated.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Adusted to his new pad, Blue does his amazing Song and Dance


The video of his dance and song at the bottom of this post is a show of affection. He is also a showing off. Blue does this when he is very happy. Today I caught him flapping his wings like a baby, and softly singing to himself - content that the sun was shining into his cage. Blue comes in and out of his cage at will when we are home and alert. I learned years ago that wiggling my fingers or sometimes making a certain sound would trigger Blue into this song and dance. It starts with his head bobbing back and forth. He can be triggered by excitement too, like the presence of a tasty treat, it may trigger the dance, and he forgets all about the food. Bobbing can also be sign of stress, but Blue will never do this if he stressed in the least.

He loves to be touched, but more so when he dances. He does cuddle, even enjoys a kiss to his side, but he does not like people touching him unless he is unusually calm and happy as in this picture. It was right after his dance. He only does this dance for Katie and I. After a solid year of spending hours a day with Blue, he sings and dances for her too. Katie cares for Blue a great deal, both emotionally and physically. Each morning he rides around with her as she tends the cages and feeds everyone. Blue very much enjoys this time with her each morning. These birds are very much into a daily routine. She plays a huge role in his care and constant need for attention.

Blue is regaining his flight feathers now that his sight has been restored. He is testing the waters and getting braver as each day comes. There was a time when Blue could pick a dime from my hand without touching my fingers. Flying through the house with ease, he loved to hide my keys, shred my morning paper and be an acrobat. Blue is very jealous on inanimate objects. The phone, the keyboard, a book, anything that takes the attention off him -- he is constantly at battle with. Since I am disabled and work at home, Blue gets attention most of his waking hours.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Moving is stressful for birds too. E-mails pour in for advice.


We recently moved, and once again, Blue had to readjust to a new environment. This is always hard on him. It took a full month for him to return to his old self. Now he loves his new place. Blue is getting his flight feathers back and soon will be flying again. I quickly realized moving was much harder on Blue then it was on us, and it was no picnic for anyone.

Blue became frightened for awhile of new noises, new lighting and just all the hustle and bustle of packing. He now enjoys this place immensely and certainly sucked all the extra attention he could get from us. We also have finches and canaries, it seemed as if they did not even notice the move. They do enjoy the extra sunlight we get here.
Blue also has friends. This is Stevie Ray Vaughn and Tina Turner. They often mimic Blue, bathing and grooming at the same time.


I have received a multitude of e-mails from people who have rescued Scrub Jays here in California. If you are in Florida, remember, they are nearly extinct and the state bird to boot. You must call animal rescue immediately.

I have always felt it is wrong to cage or domesticate any wild animal unless it cannot fend for himself and will die if you release him. Two of the people who e-mailed me were in that position. I will be posting video of a young bird feeding soon. Nessa took the time and made the right decision. She took her baby to animal rescue. They will give it back to her once it is healed up, as the bird cannot be released. She can visit and feed it everyday so it will still bond with her. It had a problem with one of its legs. I will be posting extensively on its journey from a baby to an adult with her help.

I will be posting some thing people should know and do when they find a bird in need of rescue. In the mean time, please e-mail me if you find yourself with a Scrub Jay in need of help.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blue gets visitors

Where we live we have an abundance of life that comes around. Blue has become friendly with another scrub jay we call Mama bird. Squirrels, raccoons, hawks, owls, skunks and a variety of birds all dwell near our house. The squirrels do amazing jumps from one tree to the other. Many Animals come into our small backyard for food. One Squirrel, learned quickly he could reach the seed bells for the birds. As you can see in the video, he has to reach far to grab the hanging bell of seeds. Right after I shot this, he fell as the bell broke free. He was fine, just a little scared and scampered off.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brought back to the top by popular demand

Blue - the Trance sunbathing with a bonus song and dance!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wild Scrub Jay brings present of thanks?

Another scrub jay has been visiting Blue and me for about six months. It took about a month to get this bird to take a peanut from my hand, then eventually off my head. She became comfortable enough to sit on me until she got two peanuts stuffed in her beak, which could take some time. Often she would just sit and watch me. During the winter she came every day, always in the morning and then often in the evening as well. Then we got Blue to hand her peanuts. We call her Mama bird. Kate was able to hold Blue up with a peanut in his beak and hand it off to the other Scrub three times now. Just as we were getting closer to the bird, and spring was not far off, she disappeared as quickly as she first arrived.

I assume she now has a nest with eggs or chicks. She returned a little more in a hurry then before and not as comfortable as she had been with me. She takes a peanut and leaves for about ten minutes. It used to be 1 min. This is another reason I think she has a nest. She is not hiding these nuts or eating them right away as she often would. She would take a peanut and hide it ten feet away in the ivy, then when she returned to get another while a squirrel would steal the first one. All the while as this repeats, the Scrub is unaware. So are they smart and gullible? No, this instinct is purposeful. The fact that Scrub Jays forget and otherwise loose something like 70% of the nuts they actually eat, they not only feed the squirrels and other animals, but also repopulate the forest.

Yesterday, she came and ate, taking peanuts from my hand. I noticed when she saw me she squawked, and then something happened I will never forget. I see mama bird coming towards the house with something in her beak. She places it at the foot of the sliding glass window to the backyard, right where Blues cage is, it was a dead lizard. On her way out she grabbed a peanut but not before giving us another squawk goodbye.

Everyone who has owned outside cats have found a dead animal present left for them, so this is nothing new to the pet kingdom, but certainly odd for a wild Scrub Jay. I am not sure if this present was intended for Blue or me. However, I think it gave us food because we give it food. Was this a trade – a thank you – a token of… I do not know. This is another reason I have no doubt that these birds plan. How they perceive time, I do not think we will ever know despite all the hubbub about the three day test. Mama bird had a reason for giving us the food.

Just to add to the strange day, Kate witnessed a paid of ducks flying low early in the morning, just as the sun was rising. One crashed into the carport head on. Its mate landed and watched over the stunned bird, which was OK after a rest, and flew away. Most stunned birds will be fine, if left in a quit spot for 5 – 10 minutes -- even after hitting a window. We have had five stunned birds brought to us from kids who live near by. Unable to move, we put them in a dimly lighted or even dark padded box for a few minutes, and they all sprung back to life. Not one died.

If other bird lovers out there have witnessed or experienced a Scrub Jay give food to person, or possibly another bird, please tell me about it – or any other unique behavior of these birds.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Scrub Jays remember the past and plan for future?

I am no scientist. I do know Scrub Jays, which are in the Crow family, are VERY smart. Anyone who has seen the video of the crow dropping nuts so cars run them over and crack them, only to then learn to use the cross walk signals to retrieve their nuts, know birds can think and reason to an extent. In this case, the crow learned how to use a tool, a car, to crack a nut and learned our signals to know when its safe to enter the street to retrieve the nut. If a bird can do that, in my simple mind -- a bird can plan for the future.

I found this article interesting. The study of the Western Scrub Jay's ability to plan and have an understanding of time. Although not all experts agree, it is now an accepted theory.

I have witnessed Blue and his nut hiding abilities for years. If the study did not take into account the season, the weather, and many other factors, I find it hard to believe it was a very accurate study. It only took three days. Read for yourself and let us know what you think about this study. Can Blue plan for the future? Only primates and humans are supposed have this ability, but I never belived that. Dolphins have saved humans from sharks. Dogs have traveled hundreds of miles to find there way home. Maybe we are just too hung up about being above animals to change our persception of how they think. Maybe the are not void of intelect.
Wild Neighbors: Thinking About Breakfast: The Mind of the Jay Revisited
By Joe Eaton

Nicola Clayton and her scrub-jays have been at it again. Clayton, as you may recall, is the Cambridge experimental psychologist who keeps making startling claims about the cognitive abilities of the western scrub-jay, a bird she met while at UC Davis. (It’s the most widespread of three closely related species of crestless blue-and-gray jays; the others, the Florida scrub-jay and island scrub-jay, have limited ranges).
It was Clayton who contended that scrub-jays demonstrated episodic-like memory, thought to be a human exclusive: they could recall what they had done where and when, specifically where they had stashed perishable waxworms and more durable peanuts. In the wild, the birds cache and retrieve acorns. They’re not as good at re-finding stored food as their corvid relatives the pinyon jay and the Clark’s nutcracker; as Joseph Grinnell observed back in 1936, the acorns the scrub-jays miss may become the next generation of oaks.

It was also Clayton who found evidence for a “theory of mind” in scrub-jays, the ability to think of what others might be thinking. In that case, jays prone to pilfering other birds’ caches returned to move food that they had been observed hiding. The line of thought would be: “If I had seen Ralph hiding that acorn, I’d go steal it; and since he saw me hiding mine…”

Critics objected to both claims, of course, but Clayton’s ingenious experiments made a strong case. Now she’s back, in a recent issue of Nature, with a new study that suggests scrub-jays can plan for the future—again, something only the higher primates, humans and great apes, were supposed to be able to do.

Granted, many animals do things that appear purposeful: they fly north for the spring and south for the winter, swim to Ascension to mate, seek out caves or dens for hibernation, store acorns. But it’s assumed these behaviors are hardwired responses to seasonal cues: the animals are programmed to act in pre-set ways with changes in temperature or daylight.

With Clayton’s jays, something different seems to be going on. Her experiment this time exploited the birds’ caching compulsion.

She designed a three-chambered setup. The jays were kept overnight in the central space, with powdered pine nuts to snack on. In the morning they were moved into one of two adjoining spaces, one with food, the other without.

On their second night in the experimental cages, the jays were given a supply of pine nuts and each side room had a sand-filled ice-cube tray for caching. The birds that had previously missed out on breakfast cached three times as many nuts in the “no-breakfast room” as in the “breakfast room.” They seemed to remember whether they had spent the previous morning in a cozy B & B or in a Motel 6.

What could this be, asks Clayton, but a kind of mental time travel?
The rest of this article can be read by clicking here, or visiting http://www.berkeleydaily.org/text/article.cfm?issue=03-20-07&storyID=26612

Blue helps Blog


When I write or work on the computer, Blue often sits on the top edge of the flat screen. He likes to watch my fingers on the keyboard. Other times he will sit on my head, or on his perch in front of the open window. Here is Blue who this morning decided to burst into a song and dance when I just raised my hand towards him. He aslo decided he did not like this medical bill and I tend to agree with him. Blue really does help me Blog by providing comic relief and entertainment.

The dance always begins with me doing had signals to him. Its only during this strange song and dance that Blue likes to be touched. Yesterday, after a long dance I picked him up and held him upside down in a lying down sort of position in my hand. He was very calm. I rubbed his belly and he fell asleep like a baby. This was a first in 8 years.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Typical Day



Blue’s average day goes something like this. At about 5:30 am, Blue wakes up and quietly waits. My girlfriend Kate gets up first and Blue spends several hours with her as she does the cages and gets ready for work. He loves to be part of this morning routine. He watches as she crushes up nuts for the other birds and hands him treats. All the while, he softly talks to her. Sorry, no 6:00am pics of my Girlfriend allowed here. I tried that already. At 8:00 am, Blue is transferred to me for care. He takes a shower with me and hangs with me while I get ready in the bathroom. One of the cutest shows of affection is when I get up for the first time in the morning. I will walk in the room where he sits on Kate’s shoulder. When Blue sees me for the first time of the morning, he always looks at me excitedly and peeps. This peep he only makes when he sees me for the first time in the morning. It is like “Hey Dad, I’m right here!”

Blue loves the shower, and the sound of any running water. He also loves the bright lights in the bathroom. He trills and dances on my shoulder as I struggle to awake, now its coffee time. We play in the backyard for about an hour. Blue will always do his song and dance first thing in the AM once we get outside. We play with toys and he sings to my hand signals.

If I am working at home, Blue is always with me, at times I might put him in his cage to organize his nuts and rest. If I leave, I have to decide if I can bring Blue. Blue loves the car. I think he thinks were both flying. Blue will not leave my shoulder outside, even if a dog is barking at him. However, wherever I go dozens of people approach me. They want to see him, take pictures, hear the story and listen to his trill, which he does if you clap.

As you can imagine, I like to show Blue to people, especially children, but it can get a little much. Nevertheless, I take him more often then not. I make sure he gets out on an adventure three times a week at least. In addition, Blue is often not allowed in a coffee shop and certainly no restaurants. Therefore, I take him to places where he is already known, the bank, the pharmacy and the post office are all big fans of Blue.

Blue also gets outside in nature daily. He loves to sit in “his tree” and play. He feels safe from passing big birds.

In short, Blue needs and gets allot of attention. He can be both loving and playful and fierce and playful. He still has a wild side, and he needs both kinds of attention. He likes to play tug of war or pound his beak into my fingers. He cannot bite hard enough to draw blood so I let him pound on my fingertips, which have calluses from playing guitar.

He is jealous of inanimate objects that take away attention from him, the phone, my computer, or a book. All of these things make him go into protest mode.

Blue keeps his cage a certain way. He stashes nuts around, moving them from place to place, always keeping a watchful eye know one sees where he is hiding things.

I often am asked why did I not raise Blue to be released back into the wild. Here is the quick answer.
To raise an infant bird like Blue to reintroduce into the wild takes allot of work, some of which was impossible for me. They cannot interact nor have any contact from humans. Wearing a glove, you would feed the infant every half hour without him even seeing your face, just the feeder tube. This requires you to be home for three months and never even look at your bird.

Once the bird can fly out by itself, you can begin the steps of releasing him. This requires a completely different step, needing allot of time and attention without the interaction. It is not very successful and was not a possibility for me. It was hard enough, bringing him everywhere I went for those three months, feeding him his special diet every half an hour. He would flap his wings fast and cry as I raised the feeding tube to his mouth. Eight years later he still does the “baby flap” when he is very happy or excited.
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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Blue's Sunbath Trance and Dance!

Today's Bath


Today was cleaning day and Blue spent the day on one of our shoulders or heads while we worked. He played outside, did the sunbath, and by 4:00 pm. he was beat. So, we put him in his cage to rest and organize his nuts and treasures. He decided it was bath time. Blue does not drink from this bowl. He only baths in it and knows to only drink from his green water dispenser. He also baths in a much larger bowl out of his cage. Blue separates and organizes his nuts and food, hiding things all over. He steals too!

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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blue's friends


















Blue lives in a house with other birds. Here is Sophia, a canary. Her cage is next to Blues and the Canaries sometimes mimic Blue. If he eats, they eat. He likes hearing them sing but takes little other interest in them. We are in the process of moving and Blue will have an even better environment then now. More sun and and abundance of wild birds which he likes to listen to and watch.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Blue


During a long three year recovery from spinal surgery and Encephalitis, Blue came into my life. I was outside my parent’s house when crows attacked a nest. They took the babies and ate them. Blue fell at my foot. He was fresh out of the egg, a day old at most. I called every animal rescue service, they told me to let him die. The parents abandoned him. I decided to rescue him. It was only because of a friendly man on the Internet who knew all about these birds that I was able to nurse him to an adult. He ate every half hour for about three months. I had to bring him everywhere I went in box until he became old enough to sit on my shoulder.

Blue saved my life. At the time I found him, I was at my lowest point of my life. I decided if I could keep the little fellow alive, I could do the same for myself. Lucky for me, it worked.

Blue is 8 years of age now. He has been very lucky too. Until recently, he never had any health problems. He is now blind in one eye from a cataract. Other then that he is in perfect health.

Early on, I discovered his strange sunbathing trance. Real sunlight is important to the health of all birds. I do not completely understand why he drops his head and seems to be almost asleep, falling over.

Later Blue began doing his dance when one day I wiggled my fingers in front of him. The video in the post below documents this behavior. The video shows both the sunbathing trance and his dance and song. Sometimes, I catch him softly singing to himself. The trill he learned from the phone.

Blue is out of his cage most of the day and can go nearly anywhere with me. He needs allot of affection and care. I do not condone caging wild animals for fun. If your going to try and do this, make sure its for the right reasons. I promised I would give Blue the best life I could, and I think I have.

Just a half a mile from where I found Blue is a large protected National Forest, Nicene Marks. There are many Scrub Jays and other birds there. I like to take Blue into the woods and let him hang out on a tree or play around in the stream. He loves it. Still, he is unafraid of other animals so I have to extra careful when around other peoples pets or in the woods. Blue will hand a peanut to another Scrub Jay we call Mama Bird. She visits each morning. She will land on me and I feed her nuts. My girlfriend Kate, who has developed a very close bond with Blue, has gotten Blue to give a peanut to the wild jay! We have many Stellar Jays here, and although they are bigger and tend to be in packs, Mama Bird can scare away any Stellar Jay.
I will videoing there interaction next, if I'm lucky.

Blue's Sunbath Trance and Dance!

Blue does many amazing, funny and wonderful things. Here I was able to catch two in one video. Please be patient and watch the entire video. You will see some things you may have never seen a bird do before. While were waiting for Google to process the video, you can also click here to watch.

You may notice Blue's wings are overly clipped. Blue lost all his vision when he got a cataract in one eye. He simply injured the other eye as he was adjusting to the new loss of vision. The vet was wonderful and saved his sight in the injured eye. I clipped his wings to prevent him from injuring himself. Normally I allow him to be able to fly fairly far. I do not normally even clip his wings. In novice fashion, I unfortunately over clipped them. I was in fear he would injure himself. His feathers are growing in nicely though. His check up came back 100% healthy. I was very relieved. His recovery was very fast, even the vet was amazed.

Where does Blue sleep? He sleeps here in his Mop in his cage.