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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two Blue Jays

Two Blue Jays Rockwell Halsey
Two Blue Jays
by Anne Rockwell
pictures by Megan Halsey

Ages 4-8

Two Blue Jays presents the blue jay life cycle as observed by children when two blue jays settle on a fir tree outside their classroom.

Simple pictures complement the short yet descriptive text. We learn that the male blue jay feeds the female blue jay before they build a nest together. Both take turns in feeding their babies. The father blue jay is fierce and protective and chases away a cat with its characteristic loud squawks when it comes sneaking to the tree. Eventually the baby birds get coaxed into flying out on their own, which they do. With no lesson from parents. Now the nest is just an empty clump of twigs.

I was surprised by the little details Og liked in this book. He liked to state with certainty which of the six identical-looking similar-sized blue jays in the picture were the parents and which were the grown up baby blue jays.

The best part for him, as I gathered, was looking at the various eggs on the inside front cover - Cardinal, Robin, Mockingbird, Chickadee Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, House Sparrow, Northern (Baltimore) Oriole. And then matching them up with the birds on the inside back cover.

Ana found it strange that the baby birds had no feathers at birth and were "not as cute as baby chicks". Cuteness, of course is terribly subjective and totally relative as she usually qualifies her observations with "for me" - i.e., "it is not so cute for me, maybe it is for you".

It also inspires the young to go out and observe and make their own journal about wildlife around them. Now that for the fourth year in a row a pair of Red-shafted Northern Flicker have taken up residence in our backyard tree, the kids and I have been taking notes - how they both cling to the tree trunk and inspect the hole, how one of them goes into the hole and every few minutes peeps out to spit a beakfull of tree out, how one of them flies away and comes back with stuff in its mouth... Ana is planning to make a book out of it this summer.

[image source: artist Megan Halsey's website]

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