Foam Lake Birding No. 39


As I indicated last week, I will be writing about another Rio Grande specialty – the Green Jays. They are very common around here, and as the picture shows, they readily come to feeders. As with all jays, males and females are identical.
There actually are two specialty jays in the valley. The much less common Brown Jay occurs sporadically only along the Rio Grande River itself. It is quite large and looks a lot like our Magpie back home, except that it is brown and white and not black and white. Of all jays, this one is particularly noisy. I have not seen this jay in the US, but I have seen several in Mexico.
In good light and at close range, the Green Jay is simply stunning. The head and neck are black; the top of the head and face are a dark but clear blue; the back and central tail feathers are green; the breast and belly are greenish yellow, and outer tail feathers are yellow. Even a full colour picture in a good bird book does not do the bird justice. It is much more striking than that. Only a digital picture on a computer screen shows off its real beauty. Birders who see it for the first time are amazed at the varied and vivid colours.
In general jays live and travel in groups – usually, as family units. In some species, one year olds help their parents rear their younger brothers and sisters. I have not seen the Green Jays go to this extreme. In the non-breeding season they are usually seen in pairs.
As gaudy as the Green Jay is, it is almost impossible to spot it sitting in the trees. Its colours allow it to blend into the foliage perfectly. Fortunately for us birders, the Green Jay, like the Kiskadee, likes to announce its presence by squawking – though not as brashly as the latter. As a result, birders who go out looking for a Green Jay are seldom disappointed.
That is a wrap for this week. Next week I hope to cover the Altimira Oriole. Until then, adios from the Valley.