Ice Chips, Temper Tantrums, and Mary Pringle

John Jay's second blog!

John Jay takes inventory of everything around him, constantly. He can find the smallest item new to a table top or holiday decorations (don’t get me started). His new obsession is ice chips. I don’t mind. I know the ice chips will melt, wherever he stashes them – between books, under couch pillows, through the large holes of crocheted blankets piled next to a rocking chair. Ice chips are far better for caching, as I often find dog kibble, peanuts, and buttons throughout my home.

I recently invested in some new ice trays. These new trays don’t spit shards of ice onto the ground like the old ones, cracked and splintering. I’m not able to produce as many ice chips as before, which has brought out a new behavior from John Jay: the temper tantrum. 

What does a Blue Jay temper tantrum look like? Well, it’s similar to a toddler tantrum (minus the screaming and/or crying). John Jay finds a corner or goes under a chair and begins rapidly pounding his beak into the carpet. This happens for about 15-20 seconds, and then, he acts like nothing happened. 

These tantrums also occur when I cover the large cage of my rescue budgie (parakeet) named Mary Pringle. Every day, John Jay will fly up on her cage and check to see if anything is different inside. He has also figured out the silver latch on the door and that the latch opens the cage. My intervention of this new skill also executes tantrums. Yes, Blue Jays are that intelligent. 

Mary Pringle, the budgie, was found a few years ago exhausted on the beach of Isle of Palms. I wish I knew her story. She was never claimed by her owner. I named her Mary Pringle. Mary Pringle, the woman, has spent over 20 years walking the beaches of Sullivan’s and Isle of Palms leading the Island Turtle Team. She rescues injured wildlife and participates in avian research. There was no better name. There is no better person. Mary Pringle also helped facilitate the adoption of the budgie Mary Pringle to me. Thank you, Mary. 

The relationship between John Jay and Mary Pringle is divided. John Jay is always eager to be more involved in Mary Pringle’s space and food. He will scour the floor around her cage to look for little pieces of millet and often slides small items through the bars, even ice chips. Mary Pringle ignores John Jay for the most part. I think she’s had her fill of native North American birds for a lifetime.


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