For those of you who have been following us since at least the spring, you may remember that I raised some wild baby birds for the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation prior to us leaving for our cross-country camping trip in May. There are several posts on these birds. A few of my favorite birds were a couple mockingbirds and a blue jay that became bonded prior to release. I named the blue jay Topaz and my neighbor named one of the mockingbirds Sweetie. One of the mockingbirds was AWOL after a few days, so I suspect something happened to it. Sweetie would hang around with Topaz before and after release, but we last saw Sweetie about a day or two before we left on our trip.
Topaz was still hanging around the day we left and called to us constantly while we were loading the final items in the motorhome. I hated to leave. My neighbor continued to feed Topaz blueberries and raisins for a couple weeks and Topaz became increasingly less interested in coming to her until it finally left and she didn’t see the bird all summer.
We were hoping to see Topaz when we got back, but with no sightings all summer, we were skeptical. We filled our bird feeders and bird bath as soon as we returned and our usual bird guests are beginning to return. But, no Topaz.
A few days ago, Regis was riding his bike down our street when he heard a hawk and looked for it and found a blue jay instead. Fortunately, I was walking Dart at the time and Regis saw us and summoned us to see this bird. We were sure it was Topaz. It would not come to us but watched us briefly, then flew away.
I have been keeping an eye out for the bird ever sense. I have to run the gauntlet of biting flies every time I go out, so I haven’t been interested in walking further than Dart requires. The biting flies are particularly bad right now and I have become a human windmill swatting them away from my head.
This morning, I wore a hat with a neck covering to protect my head from the flies and walked Dart a bit further than usual when I heard a hawk. But, it was not quite a hawk. It sounded less robust. I searched for the location of the sound and found a blue jay! The bird kept making hawk noises and moved from tree to light post to tree. I took Dart back home and got the camera and fortunately the bird was still there when I returned. I got several pictures and could keep tabs on the bird because it kept making hawk noises.
At one point, as I had the camera pointed to the bird, it started making perfect osprey sounds. I was watching it through the lens as it was mimicking an Osprey. It then went through a small repertoire of bird sounds, none of which were blue jay cries. It was acting like a mockingbird.
Regis joined me and when he got closer to the bird, it starting moving its wings in a begging position. Now we are certain it was Topaz. The bird seems to be missing some head feathers but they may be growing back in. At first I thought the head feathers were wet, but after reviewing the pictures, I think I see little pin feathers coming in but I am not certain.
Two other rehabilitated blue jays were released in our yard so Topaz would have some blue jay friends, but the other two birds were not seen beyond a day after each release.
Topaz is a great mimic. It was a thrill to see the bird successfully making it on its own even if it thinks its a mockingbird.