“Good morning little one,” chirped a mother Canada jay (in the above deer camp photo one of these especially intelligent birds is helping itself to bread placed on my knee). “You and I and your father are going to do something different today. We are going to eat suet, which we need to survive the coming winter. There will soon be lots of days when it will be too cold or stormy to search for food. On those days we must remain sheltered in a thick evergreen tree and live on fat stored in our bodies, made from the suet we will eat today. Now pay attention to how us jays get suet so you can get some yourself in the future. The first thing we must do is find an orange thundermaker.”
“Is that one over there?” asked the young bird.
“Yes, that’s an orange thundermaker all right, but it’s the wrong kind. It’s sneaking, often changing direction and often halting to look around. We’ll do much better if we find one sitting quietly in a tree or on a stool on the ground.”
“Look, there’s one in a tree over there,” the young jay excitedly chirped.
*That orange thundermaker won’t do either,” the mother jay said. “There are no fresh deer tracks in the snow anywhere near it.”
“Another one is crossing the top of that hill up ahead,” the father jay said, “and it’s walking nonstop and carrying a stool on its back.”
“That’s much better,” softly sang the mother bird, “let’s follow that one.”
“That orange thundermaker is passing the place where several deer feed every day,” the father jay soon warned.
“We’ve got to stop that thundermaker quickly, ” chirped the mother bird. “Let’s fly into one of those those red-barked bushes with white ragged tips on branches ahead of that thundermaker and then chatter loudly to get its attention.”
“The birds sure are noisy today,” the thundermaker mumbled. “Hey, look at that. This area is full of the red bark dogwoods (osiers) that deer like to eat in winter and many have recently been browsed by deer (made evedent by the ragged white tips). And look at all the tracks. I think I’ll put my stool in that clump of six-foot tall evergreens up ahead.
“Perfect,” the mother jay softly sang with her flute-like voice. “the thundermaker is now downwind and well hidden. Now all we have to do is wait.”
A half hour later, a big buck walked into the patch of dogwoods from the adjoining spruce bog and began eating.
“The thundermaker isn’t moving,” the father jay noted. “I think it’s napping.”
“Oh my,“ chirped the mother bird.“ Let’s fly to that branch above its head and make some noise.
“Chatter-chatter-chatter,” the three birds sang as they landed.
“That did it,” the father jay noted, “The thundermaker now sees the buck and it is getting ready to make thunder.
“Wow,” the young bird chirped,” that was loud. Look, the buck fell down!”
“Boy,” the orange thundermaker said to another orange thundermaker a few hours later, “the birds sure were noisy out there today, and it was amazing how quickly three of them found the pile of entrails from my buck. As soon as I finished field dressing it and stepped back, they were on that pile, stuffing themselves with suet.