|Photo from the American Bird Conservancy|
We have many interesting birds here in the high desert. I've discussed the road runners in the past; these large birds nest in the bushes and trees near our house and can often be spotted in our front yard. There are robins, crows, starlings and sparrows, just like in other climates. Then there is the pinyon jay, a small, noisy bird with blue feathers unique to the Great Basin area of the western US. I think the pinyon jay is one of our most fascinating wild birds.
|Photo from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology|
Pinyon jays eat pine nuts, the seeds inside pine cones. They're known to have good memories, able to cache pine nuts in secret places and find them again later. I find them very difficult to photograph; they move quickly and they blend into the landscape in a place like this, where the sky is almost always blue. You see them flitting from one bush to another, or rustling about in a tree, a flash of color against dusty juniper and cedar. They're not exactly sky-blue themselves; they're duller than that, more of a cadet blue, or cobalt. Their heads are more brilliantly colored than their bodies; the feathers around their eyes glisten with a deep royal-blue tone, set off by shiny black-bead eyes and a sharp, slender black beak.
|Photo from Nature Works|
They're alert and they seem very smart. They exhibit flock behavior; if you see one, there are bound to be several more nearby. Over the past few weeks, I've been watching them in my backyard. We've been putting the dirty straw from the chicken coop on the backyard planter beds, to help fertilize the soil and protect new growth. I've watched the pinyon jays pick up pieces of straw and carry them out over the arroyo. I've also watched what I think could be nesting behavior in a juniper in our backyard. I always know the jays have been around, even if I haven't seen them, when straw is scattered on the patio under the planters. They're fractious, easily distracted and quickly scattered. They'll fly off in an instant, crying out across the arroyo, if I try to approach them. And oh, how I've tried - barely breathing as I tiptoe across the patio with a crust of bread, a handful of birdseed or (maybe especially) my camera.
Sometimes I hear them before I see them, loud cackling and cawing preceding the flock as they fly over the wall from the arroyo. When I do see them, I try not to blink; they're elusive and endlessly interesting, these darting, swooping, jewel-toned neighbors of mine.
Photos courtesy of the sites linked in the captions. Click on each link for more info on the pinyon jay.
Don't forget to visit the other Color Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts. Just click on the links below:
Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Gillian at Tales from a happy house.
CJ at Above the River
What is The Color Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a color related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about color in new ways.