477. Cyanocitta cristata (Linn.).—BLUE JAY.
Throughout state—breeds (L. Bruner); "Comparatively few in Nebraska" (Aughey); "Resident, abundant (Taylor); "West to the Great Plains" (Goss); Beatrice, De Witt (A. S. Pearse); Omaha-breeds (L. Skow); : Cherry county—breeds (J. M. Bates); Gage county—breeds (F. A Colby: "a common resident, breeds May 1 to June 15" (I. S. Trostler);
478c. Cyanocitta stelleri annectens (Baird).--BLACK-HEADED JAY.
Sioux county, April, 1891 (L. Bunner).
In writing about the Long-crested Jay, Dr. Elliott Coues says:1
"All jays make their share of noise in the world; they fret and scold about trifles, quarrel over anything, and keep everything in a ferment when they are about. The particular kind we are now talking about is nowise behind his fellows in these respects—a stranger to modesty and forbearance and the many gentle qualities that charm us in some little birds and endear them to us; he is a regular filibuster, ready for any sort of adventure that promises sport or spoil, even if spiced with danger. Sometimes he prowls about alone, but oftener has a band of choice spirits with him, who keep each other in countenance (for our jay is a coward at heart, like other bullies), and share the plunder on the usual terms in such cases, of each one taking all he can get. Once I had a chance of seeing a band of these guerillas on a raid; they went at it in good style, but came off very badly, indeed. A vagabond troop made a descent upon a bush-clump, where, probably, they expected to find eggs to suck, or at any rate a chance for mischief and amusement. To their intense joy they surprised a little owl quietly digesting his grasshoppers, with both eyes shut. Here was a lark! and a chance to wipe out a part of the score that jays keep against owls for injuries received time out of mind. In the tumult that ensued the little birds scurried off, the woodpeckers overhead stopped tapping to look on, and a snake that was basking in a sunny spot concluded to crawl into his hole. The jays lunged furiously at their enemy, who sat helpless, bewildered by the sudden onslaught, trying to look as big as possible, with his wings set for bucklers and his bill snapping; meanwhile twisting his head till I thought he would wring it off trying to look all ways at once. The jays, emboldened by partial success, grew more impudent, till their victim made a break through their ranks and flapped into the heart of a neighboring juniper, hoping to be protected by the tough, thick foliage. The jays went trooping after, and I hardly know how the fight would have ended had I not thought it time to take a hand in the game myself. I secured the owl first, * * * and then shot four of the jays before they made up their minds to be off."
"It is difficult to describe the notes of this jay, he is such a garrulous creature and has such a variety of outcries. He ordinarily screams at the top of his voice, until he is tired or something attracts his attention. This cry is something like that of a Blue Jay, but hoarser and heavier. * * * He has also a call sounding like the rataplan of a Flicker; and again, when greedily regaling on acorns, and hopping aimlessly about, or peering curiously down through the pine fronds to watch a suspicious character, he talks to himself in a queer way, as if thinking aloud, and chuckling over some comical notions of his own. * * *
"The Long-crested Jay wilt eat anything eatable. It is said jays kill and devour small birds, and doubtless they do so on occasion, though I do not think it is habitual with them. They suck eggs, despoiling many a pretty nest; and if they cannot catch winged insects, fat larvæ and beetles do not come amiss; but after all, they are principally vegetarians, feeding mainly upon seeds, hard fruits, and berries.
* * * Wherever he goes he has it pretty much his own way, hated and feared by the other birds, whom he silences with a scream and subdues by a show of authority. But who of his kind has not enemies? Cassin’s Flycatcher, almost as noisy and audacious, has many a set-to with him, and even the nimble little Wood Pewees pester him sometimes. The woodpeckers tease him persistently; they can scramble about faster than he can follow, and laugh at him from the other side of a bough, till he quite loses his temper. But after all, our Jay has good points, and I confess to a sneaking sort of regard for him. An elegant dashing fellow, of good presence, if not good manners; a tough, wiry, independent creature, with sense enough to take precious good care of himself, as any one who wants his skin will discover."
The above will apply equally well to our Blue Jay, only that he is more of a coward and will not attempt as many conquests as will Steller's Jay. He does much of the mischief that is laid at the door of the Robin, Oriole, thrushes, and other birds, and then sneaks away unobserved. He is a good bird to practice on, both for the sportsman and taxidermist.
480. Ampelocoma woodhouseii (Baird).—WOODHOUSE’S JAY.
"Transient visitor" at North Platte—common (M. K. Barnum); east to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico (A. 0. U. Check List).
484. Perisoreus canadensis (Linn.).—CANADA JAY.
West Point, Crawford (L. Bruner).
486. Corvus corax sinuatus (WagI.).—AMERICAN RAVEN.
Sand Hills of Brown county, Sidney (L. Bruner); "Formerly frequently seen in Nebraska, especially in its northern part" (Aughey); "Resident, formerly abundant, but at present rare" (Taylor); "Western United States" (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow).
487. Corvus cryptoleucus Couch.—WHITE-NECKED RAVEN.
Once near Sidney (L. Bruner); "Republican river near west line of state" (Aughey); "East to the edge of the plains" (Goss); "a mounted specimen seen in Cherry county,—ranchers say that they are seen occasionally during fall and winter in northwestern part of state" (I. S. Trostler).
488. Corvus americanus Aud.—COMMON CROW.
Omaha, West Point, Lincoln, Fremont, etc.—breeds (L. Bruner); "Exceedingly abundant" (Aughey); "Extremely abundant in all eastern Nebraska, resident" (Taylor); North America, from the fur countries to Mexico" (Goss); Beatrice, DeWitt (A. S. Pearse); Omaha—breeding (L. Skow); Cherry county (J. M. Bates); Wood River, Genoa, Omaha (D. H. Talbot); Gage county—breeds (F. A. Colby); "an abundant resident in vicinity of Omaha—breeds March 20 to May 25" (I. S. Trostler).
The common crow has recently received special study in the Division of Ornithology and Mammology of the United States Department of Agriculture, and the results have been published in Bulletin No 6 of that division. The report in question was based on the examination of the contents of nearly one thousand stomachs of these birds collected at different localities and scattered throughout the year. Dr. Merriam, in summing up the results of this study, says in his letter of submittal to the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture that "The quantity and quality of the evidence seems sufficient to justify a final conclusion respecting the economic status of the crow, although a larger number of stomachs from some parts of the country would have been acceptable.
"The most important charges brought against the crow are: (1) That it pulls sprouting corn; (2) that it injures corn in the milk; (3) that it destroys cultivated fruit; and (4) that it feeds on the eggs and young of poultry and wild birds.
"All of these charges are sustained by the stomach examinations, so far as the simple fact that crows feed upon the substances named. But the extent of the injury is a very different matter.
"In order to ascertain whether the sum of the harm done outweighs the sum of the good, or the contrary, the different kinds of food found in the stomachs have been reduced to quantitative percentages and contrasted. The total quantity of corn eaten during the entire year amounts to 25 per cent of the food of adult crows, and only 9.3 per cent of the food of young crows. Leaving the young out of consideration, it may be said that in agricultural districts about one-fourth of the food of crows consists of corn. But less than 14 per cent of this corn, and only 3 per cent of the total food of the crow, consists of sprouting corn and corn in the milk; the remaining 86 per cent of corn, or 97 per cent of the total food, is chiefly waste grain picked up here and there, mainly in winter, anti of no economic value.
"In the case of cultivated fruits the loss is trivial. The same is true of the eggs and young of poultry and wild birds, the total for the year amounting to only 1 per cent of the food.
"As an offset of his bad habits, the crow is to be credited with the good done in destroying noxious insects and other injurious animals. Insects form 26 per cent of the entire food, and the great majority of these are grasshoppers, May-beetles, cut-worms, and other injurious kinds. It is shown by Mr. Schwarz that during the May-beetle season, in May and June, these beetles form the principal insect food of the crow. Only a few stomachs do not contain them, and stomachs are often filled with them. The fact that the May-beetle season coincides with the breeding season of the crow is of special importance, the principal insect food of nestling crows consisting of these beetles. Mr. Shwarz also finds that grasshoppers occur in the stomachs throughout the year; that during the May-beetle season they occur in the vast majority of stomachs, but usually in moderate numbers; that with the disappearance of May-beetles toward the end of June they increase in number until in August, and throughout the fall they constitute by far the greater part of the insect food, often occurring in astonishing numbers, and often forming the only insect food.
"To the same side of the scale must be added the destruction of mice, rabbits, and other injurious rodents by the crow.
491. Nucifraga columbiana (Wi1s.). — CLARK’S NUTCRACKER.
Sidney, Pine Ridge (L. Bruner); Ft Kearney (Dr. Cooper); "Only found in the western part of the state" (Aughey); "To edge of Great Plains" (Goss); North Platte—abundant in town both winter of 1895 and 1896 (E. D. Snyder); "Two seen and one shot, October, 1883 (Dr. Agersborg, Birds of Southeastern Dakota).
492. Cyanocephalus cyanocephalus (Wied.).--MAXIMILIAN'S NUTCRACKER; PIÑON JAY.
Pine Ridge, near Ft. Robinson, Pine Bluffs. (L. Bruner); "A rare visitant" in Kansas (Goss); Cherry county, Long Pine—winters here (J. M. Bates); Sioux county, Feb. 19, 1896 (L. Bruner, W. D. Hunter, L Skow); do., December, 1895 (D. A. Haggard); Fullerton, Nance county, February, 1889 (Chas. E. Barker.)
1"Birds of the Colorado Valley."
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