Blue jay

Child's drawing of a treehouse and a blue jay

Dear Austin,

I really enjoyed your drawing of a Blue jay. They are part of the corvid family of birds (along with crows, ravens, magpies and nutcrackers), and I read that members of this family are thought to be some of the most intelligent and curious species of animals in the world. They are very popular at the park where I walk with my dog. I hear them all the time making a big racket when we pass by. To me, they make a sound like the squeaky wheel of a clothesline.

It looks like you’re having fun in your tree house watching the Blue jay. You have a little table set up with drinks and a skylight up above. How cozy! Is that a birdwatching book you’re holding? I bet it is.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Crow

Child's drawing of a crow

Dear Jack,

I like crows, too. I see them all the time at the park when I walk my dog Ivy. There’s a whole murder of them who yell at her from their treetops as she trots down the path pretending to ignore them.

Here are a few interesting facts about crows. They have an excellent memory and can remember faces of people. They can problem-solve and use tools. For example, researchers dropped a small bucket of crow food at the bottom of a long tube and gave a hungry crow a wire. The crow actually bent the wire to hook the bucket handle and retrieve it! Crows weigh about the same as a soup can, and they can fly up to 65 kilometres per day. They have been known to adopt baby crows that have been orphaned. Lastly, they’ll eat anything. Literally, anything. They are not picky eaters.

If you hear caw-caw-caw, they are likely warning others of danger. Ivy doesn’t get away with anything when they’re on the lookout.

Happy reading and birdwatching,

Jessica

Bluejay spotted!

Child's drawing of a bluejay

Dear Emma,

I’m so glad you spotted a bluejay. I have a few fun facts for you. Even though bluejays look blue to us, their feathers are actually brown. What happens is a trick of light. All of the colours of light pass through the feathers except for blue, and that’s what we see. Neat!

Bluejays are very smart. They are a member of the crow and raven family, and they know how to use tools to get food. Also, they are very good at waiting for opportunities to eat, such as carefully watching as people enjoy their picnic lunch and when they turn away, bluejays will swoop in for the steal.

Lastly, bluejays can imitate the sound of hawks. When they spot one looking for its next meal, they call out like a hawk to warn other birds that a hawk is nearby. That way, the birds around take heed so that they don’t become lunch.

Thank you so much for your birdwatching report. You’ve done a lovely job.

Stay well,

Jessica

Trees with bluejays

Child's drawing of three trees with bluejays

Dear Fenix,

I chose your lovely letter today because of the trees you’ve drawn. I especially appreciate the bluejays tucked into the highest limbs. I have some of those visiting my small backyard from time to time. Their calls sound like a squeaky clothesline to me. I love writing with nothing but the sounds of birdsong in the background. It helps me concentrate and at the same time, reminds me that I am part of the larger world.

Sadly, a giant maple tree in my backyard must now be taken down. Its limbs have been heavily damaged by the hurricanes we have been hit with, and now the tree poses a danger to the houses in my neighbourhood. It will be such a loss, almost like a beloved pet. We will take great care with the rest of the plants in our yard, and perhaps plant a new tree next to the stump for future generations to enjoy.

Your drawing gives me hope.

Happy reading,

Jessica

Red bird

Child's drawing of a red bird in the jungle

Dear Danica,

Red is one of my favourite colours. I especially like red shoes, red ladybugs and red maple leaf flags. I do remember you because you asked a question during my author visit to your class. Pro tip: ask a question at anyone’s presentation, and you’ll always be remembered. Authors love questions!

I also remember that I told you my favourite bird is a puffin. They are so funny to watch fly, and the sounds they make are hilarious. Google it! Is that why you guessed that my favourite colours are black, white and orange? Clever you!

Happy reading,

Jessica

American robin

Child's drawing of an American robin in a tree. Not to scale.

Dear Christopher,

Your American robin is wonderful. They do like trees, but I’ve seen even more on the ground in search of worms and other bugs for their next meal.

How do robins hunt for worms? Worms must be hard to find, right? I read that robins mostly use their very good vision. They can spot the tiny end of a worm as it pokes out of the dirt. They can also see small changes in grass as worms move about just below the surface, which tells them that a worm is there. It would be like wiggling your toes under a blanket. To be sure, they tilt their head to better see with one eye. Then they strike.

They also have very good hearing. As worms wiggle about, they move soil so that small bits of dirt rub together. This makes noise that is way too faint for us to hear, but it’s easy-peasy for robins. I’ll be excited to see them come back this Spring. Look out, worms!

Happy reading,

Jessica