by Lauren Smith
pictures by Meghan Oberkircher
Once upon a time there was a baby blue jay who, when he was very small, decided he wanted to become an adventurer and explore the world. Unfortunately he decided this before he could fly (and before he really had any feathers) so he didn’t get very far.
A hog-nosed bat named Batrick (Bat-Bat to his friends) flew by on his nightly foraging foray and, seeing the poor little blue jay shivering on the ground, decided to take it home to his bat cave.
The little jay, with little thought for his probably slightly worried parents, climbed on board Bat-Bat’s back for the journey to Bat-Bat’s bat cave.
Bat-Bat’s mother was not exactly pleased about another mouth to feed but she let Bat-Bat, her only son, keep his new foundling. Bat-Bat didn’t have too many friends, so his mom didn’t have the heart to deny him this new companion.
The year went on and the little jay grew into a grown-up normal-sized jay. The jay, who they did name (but as bats only communicate with high-pitched squeaks, no one but Bat-Bat and his mom knew what the jay’s name actually was) learned how to live like a bat. He roosted upside-down during the day with Bat-Bat and his mom, and ventured outside at night to eat copious amounts of insects.
One night, while chasing a succulently juicy moth, the jay became so single-minded he forgot to watch for predators. The jay, since he didn’t know how to echolocate and didn’t have the greatest night vision, was usually pretty bad at catching enough food to eat. This night he was particularly hungry, so his owl-dar was down.
Owls and blue jays tend not to get along, and this encounter did not end well for our blue jay friend.
Lucky for him, the next morning an attractive female blue jay named Mary Jayne flew by while taking her morning constitutional. Mary Jayne was an exceptionally observant jay and it only took her 20 minutes to notice our poor jay friend laying on the ground, gasping for air.
Mary Jayne decided that she needed to nurse the poor wounded jay back to health.
Mary Jayne had never nursed anyone back to health before so she wasn’t really sure how it worked. She decided to take the wounded jay to an old red-cockaded woodpecker cavity in a longleaf pine tree so he could heal in privacy. Al of the sap adhering to his wounds helped them to heal quickly, though the jay pretended he was still weak so that Mary Jayne would continue to feed him mouth-to-mouth.
Since they were on such intimate terms, they decided the jay needed a name. After much deliberation, they arrived at Elmer. Both agreed that Elmer was a fine, strong name for a blue jay.
The newly christened Elmer Jay took Mary Jayne back to the bat cave to meet Bat-Bat and his mom. They, unlike Elmer’s jay parents, were actually worried when he disappeared and had spent many nights searching for him.
Bat-Bat and his mom were overjoyed that Elmer had returned and was all in one piece. They were so happy to see Elmer and Mary Jayne that they broke into a spontaneous dance, which most bats reserve only for truly special occasions.
Naturally, Elmer and Mary Jayne hooked up, and after a year or so started having little baby jays of their own. They were very good parents, and never let any of their offspring get stolen away by bats.
Bat-Bat also eventually found a female friend and they too procreated, producing a cute little son named Batrick Jr.
The Bats and Jays remained close and their children frequently had sleepovers. Even tough the Jays decided to go diurnal, they did decide that roosting upside-down was a much preferable sleeping method.
Both the Bats and the Jays went on to live long, fulfilling lives, full of joy and happiness.
For an article on upside-down roosting blue jays, see: