Eurasian Jay’s, Garrulus glandarius, with heather, Erica tetralix, and a common European Adder, Vipera berus with oak leaves, Quercus robur, copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Did you know Eurasian Jays are able to catch and eat little common European adders? I read that in an old Dutch book. It is probably why we spot jays near heather fields. They like to stay near big trees because they are afraid for birds of prey and they therefore need cover from the trees. But they like to hunt for eggs, chicks, and small snakes on the heather fields as well. My drawing shows this habitat: jays are overlooking a heather field, there is flowering heather, an adder, and there are acorns.
Do we like jays? We think they are naughty birds because they eat eggs and chicks. Nevertheless, it requires excellent hunting skills to catch small vipers. Jays have pretty feathers too, especially the small, blue-white ones is a trophy for many bird lovers. Their naughty blue eyes tell us how clever they are. But do we like clever birds? We tend to like cute and elegant birds much more.
Jay feather, copyright Paula Kuitenbrouwer
We should like jays for the same reasons we love squirrels: without the jay and the squirrel an oak tree would loose its seed-carriers. Jays and squirrels store so many acorns but forget enough to sprout away from the mother-tree. Jays need acorns and oak trees need jays. Jays keep squirrels sharp, and squirrels keep jays busy with digging out their hidden acorns. There is a balance and watching how birds, plants and mammals are interrelated, is always interesting (and often fun).
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