Who Stole Mr Blue Jay’s Corn?

It started out as a grey, damp, raining on and off again day in my neighbourhood and then…the sun came out, the sky turned blue, and the garden was a flurry of activity. As it happened, it also helped us solve a mystery: Who was stealing Mr Blue Jay’s corn cob?

Mr Blue Jay has been suspicious, too. Today he more or less stood guard while his partner ate her fill.

They had no more than begun their morning breakfast and the corn cob disappeared! So who is taking it? The largest of the grey squirrels was not around and even if Little Red’s ego would make him think he could shift that cob, he couldn’t. So who is it? For several days now we have not been able to catch the culprit but, today we did!

Look who has the corn! It is the smallest of the Grey Squirrels. It worked really hard to get that big cob full of kernels off the lower deck and around to the other side of the garden.

The cob has fallen in a little hole and the squirrel is able to dig its nails in and lift it.

Oops. It is falling down again.

He stopped to eat some of those prize kernels and then he began nibbling them off and burying them in the grass.

We left him to it and went and checked on the ducks at the local pond. When we returned the corn cob was gone and he was madly filling his cheeks with the nuts from the deck.

Just watching him I laughed and said that he was like a vacuum cleaner – and there you have it. That is how the smallest Grey Squirrel came to be re-named Dyson on 28 October 2021.

The duck pond was relatively quiet. Normally you cannot hear yourself think for the honking of the geese. The parks department has turned off the fountains and there were people raking leaves from the edge of the pond into a truck.

There were a few Mallards remaining along with 10 Wood Ducks. Apparently, 10 is a high number for Wood Ducks to still be at this location. Thankfully, I could prove to Cornell’s eBird Submit that there were 10 just through the photos!

It was cold walking around the pond and hopefully these remaining waterfowl will decide to move on to more warmer climates shortly.

Besides about 40 Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, there were a few Mallards. There was, however, one special little duck swimming around with all the regulars – a visitor. She was a female Ring-necked Duck. They are sometimes called a Ringbill.

Ring-necked Ducks breed across Canada during the summer and in a few northern US states. They live in freshwater marshes or near shallow ponds and lakes. You can apparently see thousand upon thousand of these ducks near Rice Lake in Minnesota during the fall migration.

They are dapper divers. This means they are quickly in and out, diving in shallow water to feed on aquatic plants, tubers, and invertebrates. They also eat worms, leeches, midges, and flies, etc.

There is a very distinctive grey head. The forehead slopes down and in a few of the images you can see the peaked rear crown. Because she has been diving, it is not as prominent as it might be when dry. The female has a white ring around its eye. The back is a gorgeous dark brown with a paler brown underpart. You can see the distinctive ring on the bill. That is not, however, what gives the duck its name. The males have a light chestnut coloured ring around their necks….something that is very hard to see I am told.

The colouring on this duck is simply gorgeous.

She really stood out

Sadly, there is another injured duck. This time it is a male Mallard in eclipse plumage. We will try to retrieve it tomorrow to take it to the rehabilitation clinic and that, for me, is always problematic. These two were inseparable all the time I was at the pond. Ducks do not form life long bonds but the bonding is seasonal. Still, it ‘feels’ bad to break the pair-bond but still necessary if this duck is to survive. It appears that it has a broken wing just like the female Mallard a couple of weeks ago.

Hopefully some food will lure this young man out of the centre of the pond tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Before I leave, I also want to introduce you to another streaming cam. Last year there was a lot of excitement when the two Great Horned Owls named Bonnie and Clyde stole the Bald Eagle’s nest on the grounds of Farmer Derek. We all watched in awe has Clyde hunted and Bonnie fed the two owlets. Well, I have another owl box for you to watch. This one is in Joburg, South Africa. It is the home of a Spotted Eagle Owl. On 13 October two eggs hatched. Today they are 15 days old. What makes this nest box interesting is that there was an orphan owlet placed in the box on the 22nd of October. It is 5 days older than the resident pair. No one knew if the female would accept the orphan – but she did. She is raising it as her own!

Just look at how adorable they are waiting for Mum to return with a meal.

There she is feeding all of them.

I think you might really enjoy seeing these three owlets grow up.

It turned out to be a great day for the birds. It is a relief to finally find out who is taking Mr Blue Jay’s corn cob. We are going to have to figure out a way to thwart Dyson. And then there is the injured Mallard to deal with – tomorrow.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope everyone is well and enjoying the birds. Next week they will be ringing the three osplets at Port Lincoln and in two weeks the Collins Four will be fledging. After that it will only be a week until Yarruga is ready to fly. Take care!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: EcoSolutions Joburg Owl Cam.

5 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for such a cute and funny story of Mr Bluejay! I’m glad you found the one who was stealing the corn cob! Lol! The photos of the ducks are so pretty! Thanks for the bluejay photos as well! I look forward to watching the little owlets and thanks for the photos and link for them.
    Have a great night !
    Linda

    1. It was quite funny finding Dyson pulling that corn. Dyson is a perfect name for him because he sucks up all the food! I never would have thought about those little squirrels taking the corn cobs. Well, I know different now. They work hard. Glad you enjoyed the story and do check out the owls. The camera isn’t the best but watching them is wonderful.

  2. Salliane says:

    The squirrel must be storing up for the coming winter and the corn was an easy snatch 🙂

    1. Salliane, We could not believe it when we saw that little squirrel with that corn cob. He must have worked all the time we were away pulling and tugging. At the end of the day I figured he worked hard for those kernels! Now the question is: where is he storing those cobs!

    2. I am laughing. The three grey squirrels have been coming for about 4-6 years. We know them by their markings. The one that stole the corn was almost dead one year. He had no fur on his tail and he was leaning on the bricks shovelling black oil seed in his mouth. He did this for hours. We were certain he would die. We put out more…he came back! I wondered if he got caught in something. It was quite strange. The BJs figured out how to stop him today!

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