Blue Jays Set New Record!
Yesterday, the 2023 season total at Hawk Ridge reached 75,860. Jim Baker has some thoughts.
(Listen to the radio version here.)
Today, September 26, 2023, the season total of Blue Jays counted at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory reached an amazing 75,860. (You can see the current totals here.) The previous record, set just last year, was 60,523, and jays are still coming, so this old record has been obliterated. Our corporate sponsor, Jim Baker from Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, has a few comments for today’s podcast:
This is me, Jim Baker. You know, more hawks are counted at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth than just about anywhere in the inland United States or Canada, so Hawk Ridge brings in thousands of tourists every autumn who want to see a bunch of eagles, hawks, and falcons flying by. Laura Erickson told me I’m not allowed to say anything bad about Hawk Ridge—she used to be on their board of directors and was the August counter there for a few years.
I’m hardly gonna let her censor me but, well, she has given my feed store—Baker’s Blue Jay Barn—free publicity since 1987, so I guess I better not cross her. And I have to admit I can sort of see the appeal of raptors—if you are what you eat, a lot of those hawks are beautiful because they eat Blue Jays.
But wouldn’t you think birders would have figured out long ago that Hawk Ridge is even better for watching Blue Jays than stupid old hawks? Not only are Blue Jays objectively more beautiful, they also pass by that so called “Hawk” Ridge in way bigger numbers than any hawk does. Just look at the season totals from the past four years, when the SMALLEST number of Blue Jays was over 50,000, while the biggest total for the most numerous raptor, the Broad-winged Hawk, was less than 43,000.
This year, 2023, the number of Blue Jays smashed every record, breaking the 75,000-mark for the season on September 26, with more Blue Jays to come.
Laura Erickson says the counting and banding research at Hawk Ridge provides, quote, “critical information essential for the conservation of raptors and other species" blah blah blah. So I’m not going to suggest we change the name of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory to the much better Blue Jay Ridge, or even Hawk Ridge Blue Jay Observatory.
No, I suggest changing the name of the first overlook on Skyline Parkway—the one with that big rock with the metal marker from the City of Duluth—BLUE JAY OVERLOOK. I like that name for two reasons—it doesn’t take anything from the Hawk Ridge organization, and it also reminds us that a lot of stupid people overlook Blue Jays. Laura Erickson claims that the hawk counters are hardly overlooking them since they’re the ones who have been counting so many. But where were their press releases when Blue Jays smashed the record? Where’s the celebration?
Of course we all know the reason so many Blue Jays fly over that ridge is that they first gather at my feed store, Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, up the shore a ways. From there it’s a straight shot to Blue Jay Ridge—I mean Hawk Ridge.
Even though so many are migrating south right now, plenty will be sticking around all winter. And if you want to keep the Blue Jays in your neck of the woods hale and hearty through the long winter, give them the bird feed doctors recommend most, Baker’s Blue Jay Blend. Available only at Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, “Up the Shore a Ways.”
For Laura Erickson, this is Jim Baker, speaking for the Blue Jays.
(Thanks to my dear friend John Keenan, who has been voicing Jim Baker since 1987.)