I knew this day would happen eventually but how can you really be prepared for it? This past Friday while walking on trail I came around the corner and saw a spot of blue on the ground and knew instantly what it was. It was a dead Scrub Jay.
Upon further examination I could tell it had died a violent death. Its beak was broken and one of its legs were snapped off.
I went back to my truck and retrieved something to dig with. I gave her a burial on trail. I say “her” because I am pretty sure I knew which bird it was. “Special girl”, as I nicknamed her, because she was born a little different than the others of her clutch. She was the youngest and smallest (pictured as a baby back in July). She was extra needy and would often cry out for feed from her parents.
I grew fond of this bird because of her sweet non-aggressive nature. I had a feeling that she may not be aggressive enough to live in the wild and she wouldn’t last very long. I was correct.
I meditated on it for a while and came to the conclusion that someone’s dog on the loose got ahold of her. I used deductive reasoning as well. A predator bird or feline would have eaten her or carried her off. Whatever did this just mangled her and left her to die. It was also something pretty powerful with a large mouth to crumple her the way that it did.
I often see people let their dogs loose on that trail even though there are laws and signs posted instructing against it. One day a few weeks ago a man’s dog ran straight at me in an aggressive manner and I also maced it. He did the thing that most bad pet owners do, try to blame the other person. “you gotta small dog around here?” “No.” I replied. I just gave him a shitty look as he walked on. He knew he shouldn’t be letting his dog run free like that.
Of course we all want to let animals run free but there are reasons that you cannot. If his dog bites a human he could get sued and face fines. The dog may also get put down. No one ever thinks their dog will bite someone until it happens.
Another reason they shouldn’t let the dog on loose is that there are bobcats in the area. If they feel threatened they will attack and the dog could be seriously injured. By the way, if a bobcat had killed “Special Girl” it would have made off with the body to eat it. At least that would have been nature taking its course. Not some guy letting his dog run around terrorizing the scrub.
Here is a video of took of her as a fledgling back in July. She is quite vocal. Her parents are near by. She runs through about three calls here. Mainly, she features the “I’m hungry” cry. Then there two “sprite” noises (as I call them) in there towards the middle.
Special Girl was probably a little too tender and vulnerable to live in the wild. Her disposition may have been the unfortunate result of genetic bottlenecking.
Once upon a time the state was loaded with healthy scrub and jays bred with other groups, diversifying their genetic pool. Now there are only a few spots in the state where that is happening and the rest are cut off by human developments. The eventual demise of these groups is all but certain.