For the Birds Radio Program: Ani Ganders Says Marry Someone Like a Blue Jay

Original Air Date: Dec. 11, 1990

This was the original program that was improved in December 1999, telling us why we should marry someone like a Blue Jay.

Audio missing


A lot of people have been asking me why December should be designated National Blue Jay Awareness Month. After all, Blue Jay populations are increasing, they don’t depend on endangered plants or habitats for survival, and they can be pretty obnoxious when it comes right down to it. So why out of all the birds in the Northland would I single out jays?

To tell the truth, I’m not exactly sure. There are other birds as intelligent, other birds as handsome, and other birds with as perky a crest. It’s true that ten thousand years ago, Blue Jays storing up acorns for winter planted oaks along the line of the receding glaciers, bringing the oak forest north faster than trees with wind-borne seeds could colonize the landscape, but that was well before my time. It’s also true that jays provide an important service to smaller songbirds by warning them of approaching cats, hawks, and other predators, but that’s more than offset by the fact that the Blue Jays themselves are protecting those songbirds so they can eat their tiny eggs and young themselves. No, it’s not logical to favor Blue Jays above other, more worthy birds.

So what can I say, other than that logic was never my strong suit? All I know is, I’m not the only person who appreciates the unique qualities of the Blue Jay. It was Mark Twain’s favorite bird. And apparently it’s also the favorite of a newspaper columnist who gives advice to the dovelorn. Ani Ganders writes:

I’ve been reading letters from unhappy people for over forty years, and I’ve discovered that most of the unhappiness in the world could be prevented if everyone would follow one simple principle: Marry someone like a Blue Jay. Let me explain:

Some foolish people yearn for the unattainable—they want a Pileated Woodpecker-type person to spend their days with. Now Pileateds are charming, magnetic, vital creatures—they’re the Robert Redfords and Marilyn Monroes of the bird world. But take my word for it, you can’t get close to a movie star, and you can’t get close to a Pileated Woodpecker. They’re romantic, but elusive.

Some people get turned on by high energy and effusiveness. They pick House Wren types. But every House Wren has a wandering eye. Before one batch of young are even out of the nest, both of them are already casting lustful eyes upon the neighbors.

Some people are attracted by the gentle manner and soft dreaminess of a nighthawk type. That kind of love lasts for a time, but eventually every nighthawk gets wanderlust and flies half-way around the world, leaving you to face the winter alone. Keep away from fair-weather friends.

Some people choose the opposite, which is just as bad. They want a mate to help them face hard times—a redpoll or Pine Grosbeak-type to warm their hearts on cold winter nights. But this type thrives only in adversity. Believe me, as soon as easy times come along—summer days when you can doze in a sun-dappled hammock with your loved one at your side, that redpoll will be warming the heart of some other lonely person up in the Arctic.

No, when you’re looking for a husband or wife, pick a Blue Jay—someone who believes in monogamy; someone strong enough to stick it out through hard times yet easy-going enough to relax during pleasant times. Pick someone loyal, who’ll stay with you whether you live in one place year-round or feel like escaping during the worst times. You want someone whose eating habits you can live with, whether you’re a vegetarian, a red-meat eater, or somewhere in between. Pick someone intelligent enough to be interesting without being superior and fussy. Someone comfortable in both the city and country, street-smart without being cynical, homey without being boring. Most of all, if you’re looking for true happiness, you need someone with a sense of humor. You could fall in love with a jay for the same reason that Jessica Rabbit fell in love with her husband Roger in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, “He makes me laugh.”

Yes, my advice is, if you’re looking for a faithful husband or wife to keep you interested and in love for a lifetime, marry someone with the qualities of a Blue Jay.

That was Ani Gander and I’m Laura Erickson speaking For the Birds.