Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009 - Marshhawk Way, Marshfield, Massachusetts

Blue jays screech a lot. At most times of the year, it's not that it's unwarranted, it's just that it's usually not life and death. They'll harrass an owl or a hawk just because it's there. I learned today that they have real reasons to keep up the practice through all the seasons.

At first, I couldn't make out exactly what was going on in the tree above. I could see - and hear - a screeching blue jay. I could see it diving onto a nest. And I could hear four or five other blue jays joining the horrid chorus.

I focused on the nest. From far below, I could see a hawk's head. And then I could see the tail. Dusky orange. Simple. A red-tailed hawk.

The blue jay meant business. It wasn't just hollering. It was diving on the hawk. And it wasn't just diving. It was striking. Striking hard enough to make the hawk flinch with each talon hit. The hawk made eye contact with me, but decided that what it was doing was more important than fleeing from me. The blue jay kept striking, the hawk kept wincing.

Then, the hawk made its move. It flew deeper into the trees, clutching a large section of the blue jay's nest in its talons. It landed on a branch, still holding the nest's contents. I couldn't make out if there was a youngster in there or not, but the mother jay picked up the intensity of its strikes. When the hawk flew away, it did so without anything in its talons. Whatever it had attempted to grab had either survived, or dropped to the ground. There's most likely one less blue jay in the world today. But I'm sure Mother Nature plans for such things. Blue jays lay multiple eggs for a reason, and not just one at a time.

I didn't even get a chance to tell you about Marshhawk Way, and the rest of my sightings there today. Too much drama unfolding. Too much life, and possibly some death.

Time: 66 minutes.

New species: Nashville warbler, prairie warbler (212).

Stranger hellos: None.

What else is happening: Doctor's appointment; Captains Guide; worked on magazine articles; bank, post office and other errands; read Lake of the Sky: Lake Tahoe in the High Sierras of California and Nevada by George Wharton James.

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