Jays aren’t very common birds around here, although we do occasionally see one in the garden. There’s a lovely meadow on the outskirts of the village and that’s the best place to spot them. They are a beautifully coloured bird, cousins of the dark-suited members of the crow family. They are very shy woodland birds, and apparently they’re renowned for eating and burying acorns, storing them for later. I had a friend who was always pulling up little oak s springing up in her garden, growing from the jays’ forgotten larder!
Here the jay gets a mention from John Clare:
The owlet leaves her hiding – place at noon,
And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light;
The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon,
And small birds chirp and startle with affright;
Much doth it scare the superstitious wight,
Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay;
While cow – boys think the day a dream of night,
And oft grow fearful on their lonely way,
Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.
Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings
Its murky prison round — then winds wake loud;
With sudden stir the startled forest sings
Winter’s returning song — cloud races cloud,
And the horizon throws away its shroud,
Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye;
Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd,
And o’er the sameness of the purple sky
Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.