Strange Things I Have Seen – A BlueJay Without A Beak

Those of you who’ve been reading us for the last coupla years will recall the story of “Peg” the one legged chickadee  Peggy – aka Fred. Those of you who’ve been asking if she’s still about, will be glad to hear she landed on out hands for a feed of sunflower seeds just three days back. Our little lady is still strong and defiant, despite her disability.

I admire disabled animals as they’re more vulnerable to predators, and it’s not like any of their peers will give them a break. They don’t have universal health care, they don’t have special rights, nor can they band together to demand special privileges. Basically, their society couldn’t care less if they live or die. But live they do, without anyone’s sympathy, without guilt tactics, without self-righteous indignation, without family and friends to fight for them, without compensation, without special societal considerations. They accept their disabilities and step forward to face Life. That’s more courageous than most people I know. Remember I’m talking about a chickadee here.

Now, I’ve seen numerous birds with missing legs. I’ve seen a mourning dove with a tumor half the size of it’s own head. I’ve seen a squirrel with one dead eye, and another with no fur as a cold hard Winter approached.

But I had never seen a Blue Jay without a beak before.

The wife and I were sitting on the back deck as we do every evening until it’s just too cold to do so, when she says, “Heay ! Look at that Blue Jay, the way it stuffed that peanut into it’s crop … it looks like there’s no beak on it”. I glanced up to take a look myself, but it had flown away. It soon returned, and I could clearly see something was definitely wrong with it. I ran inside to grab my camera and much to my shock, the bird actually stayed around long enough to let me snap a few pictures. They’re blurred for the most part so I had to sharpen them with Photoshop, but you can clearly see that it’s missing the entire beak and you can see it’s tongue sticking out in some of the shots. I can’t figure how it could’ve lost it’s entire beak. However, the lack of a beak hasn’t deterred it from carrying on with Life thus far. ***UPDATE Nov 8 2017 – We have since seen a grackle with the top of it’s beak broken and dangling by a thin piece of skin. We floated sunflower seeds in the shallow birdbath so it could scoop them up as it couldn’t pick them up in it’s beak. We only saw these two birds for a few days, then they just failed to show-up one morning. We never saw them again. I have since been told that these kinds of injuries are not uncommon, and are usually fatal … eventually.

In these days of mass organized hero worship, can we not take a moment to recognize, appreciate and respect … silent, unsung bravery ?



  1. bushwhacker's Lil Sis · · Reply

    I shared this story with a “birder” and he told me that this is more common then you’d think. What happens is the bird gets its beak stuck in a crevice of some sort and in desperation, pulls hard enough to break off its beak. Despite the fact this poor fella seems to have adopted and is looking healthy….I still feel badly for it.


  2. I just saw a Blue Jay with no beak. I prefer to believe he was born that way. The thought of him actually breaking off it’s own beak is just detrimental to me
    Poor little thing. He was born that way.


    1. Yes Joanne, that’s the downside of watching the Natural World. Sometimes you’ll see things, you wish you hadn’t.


  3. I have a Blue Jay that comes around with a missing top beak. It has figured out how to pick up and open the peanut I provide to the birds and squirrels. I hope to see it for a very long time.


    1. And I hope you continue seeing it for a very long time as well. Jays are remarkably adaptable and clever. Thanks for sharing with us,


  4. Wendy Weiner · · Reply

    Just came across your blog since I’ve been visited by a blue jay without a beak. Such comfort in reading about your own encounter and those of your commenters. I live in northern California, and shelter-in-place has given me the time to really take it in. This jay looks a bit more disheveled than yours, so I’m wondering if he is not able to groom himself. I’m crunching up the nuts for him, and I do see his tongue. Although nature may take its course, It’s heartening to know he may survive this!


    1. Though anything’s possible, Nature usually does take it’s course. Our sympathies have always gone to those who can’t speak for themselves. We figure the least we can do is try to alleviate some of the misery for one of our backyard denizens. Take care of your jay and I hope you’re successful in keeping it going.


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