Remember the lyrics from Rockin’ Robin? Recorded by Bobby Day in 1958, it spent 21 weeks in the Top 100, peaking at Number 2. So if you remember it, you are likely as old as I am. It went like this.
He rocks in the treetops all day long
Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and singing his song
All the little birds on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet-tweet-tweet
I have a bunch of little birds on my Jaybird Street – a family of five blue jays. Last summer, a pair of blue jays nested in the neighbor’s yard next door, but they spent most of their time in my yard foraging for handouts at the feeders. I kept them supplied with peanuts, suet and sunflower hearts. The family of five stuck around, and now they stand on guard, looking for me every morning. One stays close by and when he sees me emerge from the house, he squawks and carries on. Soon he is joined by the others as they watch closely to see where I toss the shelled peanuts. More than anything, blue jays love peanuts. Sometimes they will snatch up several in their beaks, while other times they pick up only one nut and then scurry away.
I find it interesting that when the jays grab the nuts, they almost always fly off to a distant tree. It’s as if they are afraid something with take away their food – or maybe they just like to dine in private. Sometimes they will fly as far as a hundred yards to gobble down their breakfast, then they are back on the scene, squawking and hopping around, trying to beat the squirrels to the remaining peanuts. Jays are the most vocal of my backyard birds.
Blue jays are natives of the eastern and central part of the United States and sometimes they migrate, but my birds largely stick around. Their favorite foods are acorns, and they also feed on insects as available.
My kids always referred to anybody without clothing, as “jay birds”. Ever wonder where that saying, “naked as a jaybird” came from?
In 1920s and 30s America, J-bird was short for a convict, a jailbird, and when they were first brought into the prison from the bus, they went to the showers were given their kit and made to walk from one end of the prison to the other naked. Hence naked as a j-bird – or jaybird.
My jaybirds aren’t naked. They have a suit of bright blue feathers and I enjoy having them around.