by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Apple Valley Babies"

Western Scrub Jays

scrub jay       When my Honey was a kid he was always getting lectures from the adults in his family. They were good, all American lore . . . like "don’t put all your eggs in one basket . . . the house is only as good as its foundation . . .the best made plans often go astray." These sayings not only apply to the people world with directions for their daily lives, they also apply to the bird world. The following story could be an example of all three sayings.

        Price and Connie Nelson, who live in Apple Valley, got to see a pair of Scrub Jays build a nest in the plum tree right next to their home. Watching the birds was like going to a live nature adventure show. The nest was made of twigs, moss, dry grasses and lined with hair. The female stayed on the nest most of the time. When she finally flew off the nest, the Nelson’s got out their ladder and climbed up to see inside. The nest had eggs! Two babies hatched first and then a few days later there was a third bird in the nest. Each time the Nelson’s got their camera for an action picture, the parent birds left the nest in a flash of blue.

        The nest didn’t hold up the way the builders hoped it would, and soon the side of the nest started to sag until the baby birds dropped to the ground. The young babies could not have survived on the ground, so the Nelson’s took string from a burlap sack and sewed up the hole in the nest. Then they placed the babies back in the nest, safe and sound. The parent Scrub Jays did not seem to mind that the nest had been reconstructed and went right on feeding their babies. The Nelsons got some neat pictures of the babies in the nest. The young birds have now fledged, disappearing into the wilds surrounding Apple Valley. What a great experience the Nelsons had this spring.

        The Scrub Jays are the "blue jays" of dry Western lowlands. They are a fixture of oak, pinyon pine-juniper forests, as well as frequent backyard visitors. In our electronic world of large screen televisions, cell phones, and microwave dinners, remember that just outside the windows of our marvelous homes, Mother Nature continues in a timeless rhythm of new birds each spring. The early morning rings with the sound of birds. Take a few minutes from your busy life to go out and enjoy Mother Nature and the wildlife that surrounds us.

        JL Crawford is the artist of the Western Scrub Jay. JL has been interested in birds most of his life since he grew up at the old Crawford homestead which now sits in Zion National Park. If you have questions about birds or Red Cliff Audubon monthly activities, call 435 673-0996 or visit our website at .

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