Sunday, April 19, 2015

Blue Jay Imitating Red Shouldered Hawk Call


Blue Jay perfectly mimics the call of a Red Shouldered Hawk. Red Shouldered Hawk calls are common in the Backyard, but they are rarely made by real Hawks. Most are fake hawk calls made by impersonating Blue Jays, especially my hand fed Buddy Blue Jay. 

Blue Jays have a special alarm call and head bob when they are trying to alert others and frighten away a Hawk and they also dive bomb them as shown in this clip. There is history between them! There are a number of theories as to why Blue Jays do this, but in my backyard its all about food dominance by just a few Big Jays high on the pecking order - they know exactly what they are doing. Sometimes my trained Blue Jays makes the Hawk call while waiting for a peanut as in this clip and it may be sort of a possessive/territorial call that the guy with the peanut is off limits. They also seem to enjoy getting the squirrels upset by doing this - they clearly have a few steps on the furry mammals. Late in the clip you will see a Mourning Dove relaxing and preening while Blue Jays make Hawk Calls in the forest - Hawks eat Doves in the backyard so this Dove in the open somehow knows not to be alarmed as Hawks do not make any sound when hunting.  Listen closely and you'll hear the squirrels making panicky alarm calls as the Jays have them upset. I have a sneaky suspicion my Blue Jays enjoy this. Hawks do not call when hunting, they call mainly to communicate to each other. 

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Blue Jay Imitating Red Shouldered Hawk Call