Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8: Blue Jay Feather

Wandering through my back yard this afternoon, I came upon a blue jay feather in the grass, bright blue with black barring, a pretty thing. A family of blue jays lives nearby--I often see one perched on a particular branch over the back yard, and even more often, hear them. To find one of their feathers, so neat and intact, seems like a gift. Perhaps it was given in exchange for the ripe cherry tomatoes I've been lining up for the jays on a stump under their favorite tree.

The blue of a blue jay's feather is not a result of pigment, as with many colored feathers. Rather, it's caused by the way light refracts through the barbs of the feather. If you flip over a jay feather or hold it up to the light, it looks dark grey. So the blue, which so defines this brash, beautiful bird, is in a sense a mirage.

Blue sky, blue feather--
a gift given or molted?
Flight path souvenir.

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