Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A fledgling

  A small incident in the garden
The magpie chick that wasn't

adult  Eurasian jay
We thought it was a magpie nest. Large and conical, built in the centre of a cluster of field maples not far from the main house; it seemed to fit the description. As it turned out, we were wrong. One evening as we ate outside, we spied a bird wobbling up and down on a branch of one of the field maples as if it were standing on a diving board. Suddenly it launched itself to fly. Rather than fly, it fluttered earthwards where it made something of a crash landing. 

just landed

At this point we were standing only two metres away and noticed, apart from its surprisingly large fluffy, grey-beige body, its distinctive cornflower-blue wing feathers. Obviously not a magpie, but a baby jay or garrulus glandarius.  

beating a hasty retreat

The fledgling, apparently not overly perturbed by our presence, attempted a take-off or two and then decided to walk uphill, to shelter in the long grass. This we deemed wise, given that owls, polecats and foxes would be very interested in a defenceless, earthbound fledgling.

action shot of attempted take off
Next morning we heard an adult jay calling from the trees nearby and on investigation discovered that the fledgling had survived the night and was complaining loudly from a trampled-down patch of grass. Quite possibly the parents had been feeding it in its new location. Later in the day we heard more squawking but there was no sign of the bird in its small clearing. We were heartened to see a little head bobbing in the nest. 

next morning, calling for food
Jays are aggressive, omnivorous birds which adore acorns but also raid other birds' nests to feed, yet we could not hold that against the fledgling. We dared not interfere, for the parents might have disowned the chick and the nest entirely; we trust it managed to fly back home.


  1. A lovely little story, beautifully told.

  2. What an excellent story,and photos,of this little jay's rather bumpy and danger filled entry to its new life away from the nest.


  3. A very hazardous start for a baby bird which ended happily we like to think. Charming observations and stunning photos.


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