Commandos above Sulfur Creek

Pat Gibson
2 min readApr 24, 2021
Scrub Jay, sometimes called a Mexican Jay

The Mexican Jay that nests in the big elm out near the garden showed up at the bird feeder last week. I guess the pickings here on the hill above Sulfur Creek were slim because of the rain and cold. It also let me know that the crew had not fed the dog that morning.

No connection you’re saying to yourself. How does the bird at the bird feeder mean that the dog dish is empty? Well, you’ve never seen the Mexican jay stage one of his famous commando raids on the poor dog’s Dish.

The jay is a large blue and gray bird with a long black beak. He is of the same family as the blue jay and the nasty tempered green jay found in the Rio Grand Valley. They are year round residents of this area, at least in my yard. According to Peterson’s Birds of Texas, the jay will eat about anything that won’t eat it first including domestic pet food.

The first time I noticed our jay’s tactics, I thought the cat had caught one of the birds or maybe one of my crew had. (The crew is how I refer to my five children.) The bird was squawking and fussing enough to be heard from one end of the house to the other. I went out on the balcony to investigate, fully expecting I’d have to rescue an injured critter. I wasn’t sure if it would be the bird, the cat or one of the crew. The jay was sitting in the live oak just above the dog house and the dog’s dish. He announced to the world that he was annoyed or at least up to something. As I watched, he dived down, landed on the dog’s dish not three feet from the dog and picked up a hunk of dog food. The bird never once let up with his scolding as he flew back to the safety of the tree.

When he had cracked the dry lump into a more convenient size he flew off to his nesting tree, commenting all the while. Now, in all my reading about military tactics and gorilla activities, they always stress that quiet and stealth are prime ingredients. To my way of thinking, that bird, who may weigh all of half a pound, would want to employ the most stealthy and silent tactics to raid the food dish of a full grown black Labrador. But they never have, not ever in the five or six summers I’ve been watching them from here above Sulfur Creek.

Those commando raids on the dog dish are about as noisy as the mocking bird that ran off the neighbors German Shepherd, but that’s another story.

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Pat Gibson

A fan of Liad, Valdemar, Pern, and Narnia, I am a writer, an educator, and my first book is Surviving Higgins World available on Amazon.