Jay, in our garden; 6 Mar 2014.

Jays were the very first birds I saw in our garden after moving in all those years ago, and they are often around.  But they are habitually shy, and the thought of trying to photograph them has never occurred to me.  But today all that changed when, looking out of the kitchen window, I was confronted with one perched in our Upper Oak, really not that far away.  The merest movement at a window is usually enough to send them scattering, but today as I looked out, this bird moved unconcernedly around the Oak – and it stayed, and it stayed – and I dashed into the next room and grabbed the only camera to hand – which luckily had a telezoom attached.

Shooting through a double-glazed window held no great promise of success but, as opening the window was certain to scare the creature away, I braced myself back against the larder door, and started firing.  Lots of shots, because lots, I knew, were destined to be failures.

Let’s be quite clear where we are here – I love crows.  Many think of crows only as black birds, but Jays and Magpies are crows too.  In company with another of my loves –  gulls – crows get a bad press, being highly successful, intelligent and opportunistic, killers and scavengers.  But I still love them and if asked if I would like a Rook or, better still, a Raven, to perch on my outstretched arm, I would jump at the chance.  Just think of Picasso’s Woman with a crow – and imagine enjoying such closeness and intimacy with one of these beings!  (And I greatly admire Picasso’s early work, up to around Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,  – but that’s another story!)

Jays get a bad press from devouring the eggs and young of other birds.  But something that is often forgotten that they aid the spread of Oak trees by burying vast numbers of acorns as winter food stores and then forgetting to retrieve some, which proceed to sprout as new Oaks.  This is the origin of the two Oaks in our garden, and more sprout in our “lawns” (I use the term is its loosest sense …) every year.

This Oak speaks of both death and rebirth.  Below the bird are some of last year’s dead leaves, which have stayed attached to these branches through the many storms and gales that have hammered us this year.  But all of the small twigs in this shot are covered in new buds – we are in March, and Spring is not far off.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. I love Jays 😀 They’re fascinating to watch when they haven’t spotted you! Yes, corvids are extraordinary birds. Their intelligence is incredible! So many of the things we now accept within the great apes can also be seen in many crow species 🙂


  2. LensScaper says:

    Interesting story about Jays. We have Oaks nearby (we live in a Copse surrounded by trees) and I have pulled several sprouting Oaks out of flower beds (I use that word loosely too). I thought it was squirrels that had buried them and forgotten where, but we have had two Jays in the garden several times recently so maybe I need to revise my thinking.


  3. bluebrightly says:

    I love corvids too. I grew up with Eastern America’s Blue Jay, a raucous, bold bird that’s never shy, so I was surprised by the Pacific northwest’s Steller’s Jay – they’re often every bit as jumpy as what you describe.
    And for some reason we have yet to understand, our Steller’s jays just cannot grasp the suet cage, but instead, they fly at it repeatedly, hoping to grab a bit or knock some suet off. Very comical, and seemingly inefficient. Even the huge Pileated woodpecker manages to hold onto the cage and feed as long as it wants to. I wonder if it has something to do with the jay’s feet.

    I like the thoughtful look of this jay, and what interesting plumage. You’d like reading about a local corvid expert at the Univ of WA, John Marzluff. Maybe you’ve heard about his research.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Lynn, thanks for your thoughts! I’m very interested to hear of this corvid research, there’s no doubt that crows (probably in general) are very intelligent – I like them very much, but then I like “seagulls” too, so I may not be mainstream … 😉


  4. krikitarts says:

    Your Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandariuis) is quite the handsome fellow, and very different from our common blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), though the band of blue & black feathers on the leading edge of the wing is surprisingly similar to some of the patterns in the blue’s plumage. A fine portait, Adrian!


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Gary, thank you very much! Yes, handsome is the word for these birds, and pretty colourful too for this part of the world – and although they are shy and retiring, they are very noisy too, with loud calls that I always liken to swearing. Hope you’re well, my friend! Adrian


  5. Beautiful. Picasso? Some yes. Some no. At least as I see them. Nice capture, bud. XXX ATP XXX


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I agree, some yes some no – but this woman with a crow really gets to me. And its hard to come down on one type of beauty, I mean take Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (coming to a blog near you soon…..), the beauty is not conventional, but it still very much gets to me. If anything, I think I find beauty more in Picasso’s early work; the later cubisms and abstracts I find harder to admire. ATP xxx


  6. paula graham says:

    Ha , ha, love the title and the photo…they are such furtive birds…I have not managed to get a good shot of them on my place…there are many who tell me that they do not like them..cannot think why..a good reason is never given.


  7. Sallyann says:

    …. We are in March, and spring is not far off.
    Music to my ears, even if it a slightly outdated tune. 😊


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