Though a shy bird by nature, the Eurasian Jay’s colouring is anything but. With a vivid blue patch on its wings, a body of dusky pink, pretty little black-and-white stripes atop its head and what looks remarkably like a black moustache, this bird is chic. No surprise then that ‘jay’ was once used, sneeringly, to describe a flashy dresser. Like most members of the crow family, the jay (Garrulus glandarius) can be loud and noisy, and an excellent mimic. As well as copying other birds, they’ve been known to imitate the sounds of cats, dogs and even telephones.
One recent afternoon I spent the most delightful 10 minutes watching this jay search for food. Most thoroughly, it picked up leaves in its beak and flung them out of the way. It then turned its head first to one side then the other to see if it had unearthed anything interesting. And, finally, success! I’m not sure what it found – some kind of seed perhaps – but the triumphant jay gulped it down whole and then looked directly at me, with a very satisfied look on its face, before flying off, no doubt to repeat the same process all over again.