What a Blue Jay Taught Me about Prejudice

“Angry people are not always wise.”
― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice


Yes.  It’s a baby blue jay.  I’ll explain in a bit about this particular little monstrosity, but suffice it to say I hate blue jays.  It all stems from several years ago when I was out back working in my garden.  I heard a commotion of cheeps and chirps from a bunch of sparrows.  I looked over my fence into my neighbor’s yard, and found a blue jay in the midst of pecking to death a small sparrow while the other sparrows attempted to dissuade the vicious beast.  I immediately ran into my neighbors yard to try to save the star-crossed sparrow, but was too late.  Thus started my immediate hatred of blue jays.  I deemed them wretched, murderous and vile creatures.

Yes, this strong opinion was based upon one incident with one jay.  However, the incident was so violent that I was, for a long time, unable to erase it from my mind, and thus painted all jays with the same brush.

Well, today I came home after dropping my kids off to school and heard a commotion in the dining room.  There in the corner were two dogs and a cat of mine, all very interested in something.  I heard squawking.  Yup….somehow a blue jay fledgling had gotten into my house.

I quickly grabbed the agitated and frightened creature and secured its safety from the (not so effective) predators in my house.  A frantic text to a vet friend of mine, combined with some quick internet research led me to the conclusion that the best place for it was outside where (hopefully) the mother would be able to find it. Apparently jays spend about a week on the ground once out of the nest, but before they can fly.  They hop about learning the ropes of life on the outside.

So here I sit in my window seat, with the baby jay placed outside where I can monitor it.  He’s since moved to the safety of one of my flower pots, where he’s been contentedly snoozing for the past 20 minutes or so.  I will continue to monitor him for another hour or so.  I hear his mother looking, but she still hasn’t found him.  I’ll keep him safe until she does.

So what does this have to do with dogs?  Nothing?  Perhaps everything.  Or maybe just one dog.

See, a few days ago a boy was killed by dog, possibly a pit bull (though not confirmed).  I will not defend the actions of this dog. I do not believe this dog should be saved nor should rehabilitation be attempted.  I think it killed a boy.  I think that no mother should ever suffer the trauma of losing a child, especially in such a fashion.  However, this was not a pit bull attack, it was a dog attack.  I think that’s what needs to be focused on.

How can this be prevented in the future?  Banning pit bulls?  Hasn’t worked for most cities.  What about education?  Stringent requirements on spaying and neutering (it greatly decreases the chances of aggression).  Leash laws and swift action for dogs deemed vicious by their action, not by their breed.

So was this dog a pit bull?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  It was a dog.  Dog is a dog is a dog is a dog.  In my estimation, breed doesn’t enter into the discussion. Education does.  Empathy does.  This was a terrible tragedy, a senseless death of a child from a vicious dog.  Yes, details may emerge – perhaps the dog was being baited by the child. Perhaps the dog was abused.  But perhaps doesn’t bring this child back.  And perhaps the dog was a pittie/wasn’t a pittie doesn’t change the fact that this was a vicious attack perpetrated by a single dog, not a breed of dogs.

So I’ll sit here and monitor this baby bird, putting aside my distaste for blue jays (which was based on one incident in my almost 40 years on this planet).  After all, mom had a nest nearby, and never once attacked me.  Perhaps I need to put aside my prejudice and realize that the action of the one doest not dictate the mindset of the many.  Because if mama doesn’t find her baby soon, it looks as if I may have to foster that which I (up until 2 hours ago) hated based solely on an incident from many years ago.  I think Austen put it well when she stated:

“What is right to be done cannot be done too soon.”

I think dissolving prejudices falls into that category nicely.

UPDATE:  I kept an eye on Don Rickles for a few hours while he was outside to see if the momma bird would come back.  Unfortunately, he hung out on a potted plant, refusing to move, and looking like he was falling asleep (which is a bad sign).  Even worse, he didn’t eliminate for a couple hours, meaning momma wasn’t feeding him.  So off we rushed to the Lake Erie Science and Nature Center.  A wildlife rehabilitation center is there, and one of the specialists took a look at Don Rickles.  He noted that poor Don had a puncture on his chest under his wing (probably caused by a cat).  He said in typical situations, the bird would be sent home with me to be left outside so the mom can finish up her job of taking care of him.  However, the nature of the bite necessitated some antibiotics.  So I left the poor little guy there to receive the care he needed.  I was told to call in a week to check in on him if I wished, but I was not expecting good news.

I was pleasantly surprised by this update.

Yup!  That's Don Rickles!

Yup! That’s Don Rickles!

Little man is doing well, and has even made some new friends!  It would appear that he’s on his way to complete rehabilitation!

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio


2 thoughts on “What a Blue Jay Taught Me about Prejudice

  1. Love him! I think most people feel as you feel about blue jays! I am sort of a bird lady, the 2 blue jays that frequent my feeders are super docile for blue jays reputation. I knew about their “bad bird” rep., but had no idea how smart they are. They sit on the power lines outside my window and duck and hop and stare inside at me until they have my attention, they come back repeatedly until I throw peanuts. They must have figured out I have peanuts by watching me fill the feeders, I always throw handfuls of peanuts in the shell to try to keep the squirrels off the feeders (I’ll tell you how good that works another time). Anyway, they figured out my routine, and that I am in the windows (house) and that I am a sucker for pretty birds begging for food. They show up every day on the line and I throw peanuts to them. They have trained me well. I kind of wish they were a little more aggressive, they could clear the vicious, fighting, bossy grackles out!

    I do love my blue jays, thanks for saving that little guy, I hope he makes it.

    • I don’t feed the birds anymore (at least not from feeders), but I do specifically grow quite a bit of flowers in my garden designed to feed them (coneflower, black eyed Susans, etc). I’ve noticed that whenever I’m working in the garden, though, that the robins tend to over around me, and the second I stand up, they flock where I was to see if I’ve unearthed any tasty treasures, such as worms or grubs. Now it’s to the point where I’ll toss them any grubs I happen to find, and they gobble them up, and then chirp at me for more. Apparently I’m easily trained by the local birds as well. ;)

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