Thursday, April 11, 2013

Introducing the Ms. Gimpy-Mr. Peanut Fledgling!

Fort Chapman welcomes Junior Jay.

I have noticed over the last six weeks or so the behaviors of Ms. Gimpy and Mr. Peanut have changed and this led me to deduce they had a nest, The same thing happened last year, but I never saw any baby jays appear. My sister suggested to me that I might have seen the new young offspring and not recognized them, since young birds begin to fledge when they are just about full size and thus would look just like any other Scrub Jay I might see around. 

The idea. That I wouldn't recognize a new jay in my yard!

Today: I was really lucky. I happened to be in the right place to meet Junior Jay, fledgling of Ms. Gimpy and Mr. Peanut, on one of his first outings.

How do I know he is their fledgling? I heard Ms. Gimpy call a couple of times and I went to sit outside. She didn't appear, but after about ten minutes, a very disheveled-looking jay flew over to the peanut dish, took out part of a peanut and appeared to be trying to figure out what to do with it.

Then he flew over to the fence, and I heard the clucking sound jays make when they are near one another. This went on for at least five minutes and that was already unusual as jays rarely stay in one place for that long. I finally walked over and the disheveled-looking jay was sitting on the fence very carefully cleaning itself. The clucking sounds were coming from Mr. Peanut who was observing the ablutions from the interior of a nearby shrub.

Both the fledgling and Mr. Peanut let me get quite close. 

At one point Mr. Peanut flew over to Junior and the young bird opened his mouth in that "feed me" gesture baby birds have in the nest. Mr. Peanut looked the other way as if to say, "Get used to it, Junior. Time now to find your own food." The young bird spread its wings, apparently still curious about how they work.
Young jay--aka "Junior"--still doing the "feed me" reflex.

Mr. Peanut pretending not to notice as Junior practices a flight check.

One of the most curious things is: how did Junior know it was okay to come over and get a peanut from the dish sitting next to me? I saw a program on PBS Nature that said crows do share information with one another. Jays are, like crows, corvids and are just as intelligent. Do you suppose Ms. Gimpy told the little ones to make a dash for my peanut dish? 

After Ms. Gimpy's terrible leg injury several years ago, I was happy to see her thrive, much more so to see that she has produced offspring. Her injury was the summer after my father died and we both needed a little comforting, I suspect. She still has a minor handicap but she's adjusted to it really well, as I have to my own.

It is great to have a new member of the Gimpy-Peanut clan in the garden of Fort Chapman. What a fortuitous day! (As I was writing this, two boxes of my new book, California Apricots: the Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley, were just delivered to my door! You can't beat that for putting a flourish on an already beautiful day.)

Sure I'll pose for you. How's this? Can I be in your next book?

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Florida Beach Basics said...

great pix - what a treat - a new bird and new books, all in one day! Amazon says your book will be released the April 16 - hooray!

Robin Chapman said...

What is really great is that I saw the fledgling by accident. I just happened to be in the back garden sitting at my computer when Junior showed up looking like he had fallen out of the next into a pile of dirt! At first I thought it was Ms. Gimpy, as I have to see her standing from a certain angle to identify her. Then, about a half hour later, the books were delivered. What a day!

Robin Chapman said...

I just noticed in my bird book I guestimated based on the first days of their behavior that Ms. Gimpy and Mr. Peanut might have a fledgling about April 18. I was only a week off. Pretty good guess!