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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 14-274

AMBER LOVE 15-AUG-2022 This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

Gus and Oliver were introduced to their newest associate, Captain Mimi Lafloo!

The Kielbasa Posse:

In June, there was such an abundance of creature activities, that we never without assignments. Gus and Oliver could still manage to become bored inside even though we were plagued with mice. Outside, there were baby creatures to keep an eye on and make sure they weren’t orphaned or hurt. There were large beasts looking for food and sometimes just a place to rest. When one of our outdoor friends ends up in trouble, it’s time to investigate as best as we can. With a great deal of luck and some fine skills by Gus and Oliver, there are times when we get to close those cases satisfactorily.

Merlin app life list 2021

I got to check off some birds on my Life List through Cornell’s Merlin app last year. Even if I had seen certain bird species before, I was able to get some (blurry) photographic memories of them. When 2022 Spring and Summer rolled around, I looked for birds every day. Merlin’s Sound ID makes it easier too.

You might think sparrows are the most prolific birds to appear when Gus, Oliver, and humans are out exploring. They’re certainly around. Several varieties are here, but I most often see the white-throated sparrow when I’m hanging out by the boulder and bird feeding maple tree. The blue jays are the ones who make their presence known every day. They’re in New Jersey year-round. Their blue hues are varied from light and pale to vibrant azure and are contrasted by black and white; they have a crested head which makes them easily identifiable.

Here’s something you may not have learned: that gorgeous blue gradient is not actually blue at all!

2021 bluejay on branch

I’m not sure if I mentioned this trivia before. The feathers appear blue due to a magical law of physics called interference. In constructive interference, two waves travel on the same medium and when they cross paths, there’s displacement. During destructive interference, two waves are in opposite directions of a sine, they basically cancel each other out in simple terms. The structures inside the feathers are affected by light waves and show up as another color such as green, blue, or purple instead of brown. If you want to get trippy and explore the iridescence of feathers like peacocks, look up the joint research of Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton.

I was stricken when I saw one of our blue jays was covered in a red stain. This lasted for several weeks. The red stain was impossible to miss. I wanted to believe it was caused by something like berries. The reason I had doubts about that was because of a suspicious indent in the bird’s breast.

I wheeled Oliver a little closer and asked him if he thought it was a puncture.

“I suppose it could be something like a BB round or the shape of another beak which had pecked at this bird,” Oliver said.

Blue jays live, on average, for about seven years. The oldest blue jay in the wild was believed to be 17 years and six months old. While one female in captivity lived to be 26 years and three months. … Hawks, falcons, owls, crows, other jays, opossums and raccoons are all known to kill blue jays.

The fact about wave interference isn’t important to this case file, but the list of predators most definitely is. The blue jays have been fighting within the gang this year. It wasn’t something I saw in previous years. It’s gotten bad enough that there are often mid-air wrestling matches during peanut distribution. There are plenty of peanuts for everyone!

blue jay on branch

These jaybirds are known for their loud voices and aggressive behavior, but I have to say, they were being polite to each other until recently. Fortunately, none of them have dared attack a chipmunk in my presence. I’ve been finding so many feathers on the ground this year that it’s notably more than ever. The jays and the robins have been fervid enemies this year, yet I’ve only found a few robin feathers. Maybe they’re grown to stay in better?

injured bluejay doing better

Of all the feathers I found, including the ones I left on the ground, none of them had the blood red stain on them. We didn’t have anything to test. It would have given me a reason to buy some luminol and/or a microscope.

The victim was able to fly and perch. He seemed to be “taking it easy” as far as a bird that needs to eat and drink can. None of the others were going to nurse it. There’s some kind of baseball saying that claims the great ones play hurt. In my opinion, they’re not the smart ones. Bodies need to heal. We kept tabs on this fellow to make sure it was coming back to the yard and eating well.

“We need to talk to Johnny Stool Pigeon,” Oliver said.

I knew he was right. Johnny was the jaybird that would most likely have the best intelligence on what happened to someone else in the gang and he’d be willing to share that in exchange for a few extra peanuts.

Oliver explained the plan to Gus and let him take over the outside investigation from there. Ollie went back home to his cat tree where he thought more about the predators of birds like the blue jays.

Certain birds had begun to tolerate Gus as long as he kept a good distance away. The red squirrels were never going to give Gus a chance. They are frenetic and jumpy. Gus and I stood about thirty feet from the bird feeding tree. I threw the last of the peanuts I had in the coffee can and hoped Johnny would be one of the birds to come over.

Since the size of the Blue Jay Gang increased, there were a couple of fellas we had to get to know better. Two particular newcomers were brought up frequently in local critter gossip: Sprysak and Blutocki. Johnny said they were the newest jays to the neighborhood. They were more known for dealing with trades, especially if the goods were stolen. That didn’t mean they couldn’t get violent if the situation called for it. All jays have the capability.

“No, ya see,” Johnny Stool Pigeon said, “Sprysak wasn’t the hitter. He’s the victim! He’s the one in yer pictures.”

“A new guy? Never heard of him.” Gus said. “Whose got a beef with a new guy?”

“Oh, ya don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t ‘a said anything.” Johnny turned his head probably noting the easiest path to exit away from the bushes.

“Spill it, beak.”

“Hey, now. I always been nice to you. I’ve always given you what you need. Don’t raise yer voice ta me.”

Gus may have looked like he was lying down passively, but I’ve seen that posture before. With the tail swish, it meant Gus was putting his energy into his back legs in case he needed to jump quickly to the rock and give Johnny a swipe.

Johnny dove into the bushes but stayed close by. He was making some cover. He gave me a squawk so I put down a couple more peanuts. That led him back into the open and he continued.

“These new fellas came in by way of Greenpoint. They’re called The Kielbasa Posse. Sprysak is a real squealer. He rats on his own friends.”

Gus and I listened to the little bit of information Johnny Stool Pigeon had about Sprysak. He ratted on his friend Blutocki over a case about a stolen Stradivarius that ended up being paste—a total fake. It was still worth a grand, but not as much as the real deal.

We stayed around the junkyard for a little while to see if either Sprysak or Blutocki would make an appearance. One way to look at it is that sometimes your friends do know better than you. Sprysak’s confession could have meant less trouble for his boy Blutocki. I don’t know. During one of our stakeouts, I caught a fight on camera although you can’t really see who’s in the rumble. I showed it to Johnny Stool Pigeon and he identified the vocals as Blutocki having a go at Richie “The Boot” Cyano. They lost some feathers but were able to go their separate ways. The original locals might not be too happy that the boss, Louie Eggs, invited outsiders into the club.

Case Findings:

The detective agency learned about a couple of the new members of the Blue Jay Gang. They’re still outsiders called The Kielbasa Posse because they’re from a Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Sprysak was the victim of a brutal attack, but the tough bird lived. He convalesced in the trees away from others and only got social when peanuts were distributed. The attacker seems to be none other than he’s acquaintance Blutocki and not one of the owls or hawks as suspected.

Case Status: Closed

2022 Blue Jay Gang

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