Jay – 1894

Garrulus glandarius – Resident; not common.

In a county with so few woods as Pembrokeshire this bird of the coppice would naturally be somewhat scarce, and in the woods where he occurs he is, unfortunately, the object of constant persecution at the hand of keepers. We had plenty of Jays around us at Stone Hall, and derived constant amusement from their clever mimicry of other birds. So cleverly did they copy the mating notes of our friends the Brown Owls, that we have frequently gone out on our lawn to look up into a tree expecting to see an Owl upon one of its branches, when an impudent Jay has fluttered out.

We took a young one out of a nest in the shrubbery one year, and brought it up in a cage, side by side with an accomplished Ring-necked Parrakeet (Palaornis iorquatus). The Jay soon learned all the Polly’s words, and would repeat them in the Polly’s ridiculous voice, to the great indignation of that bird, who for a long time sulked in silence in consequence.

One summer we had quite a plague of rats and field mice in our kitchen garden, and all our peas were being fast devoured. To destroy these pests we put poisoned pieces of bread about the garden, and, unfortunately, these were seen and carried off by the Jays, the result being that we found their dead bodies lying all over our grounds. After this we saw no Jays for several years. The survivors not only left us, but must have represented to their fellows that our covers were dangerous, and it was only after a long interval that confidence was restored, and any Jays returned to us.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

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