For the Birds Radio Program: Blue Jay Intelligence, and Baker's Blue Jay Cellular Phones

Original Air Date: Dec. 17, 1990 (estimated date) Rerun Dates: Aug. 10, 2012

In honor of National Blue Jay Awareness Month, Laura investigates the difference in intelligence between a Blue Jay and a small child. This program features Tom Erickson when he was four years old.

Duration: 4′34″


Ever since National Blue Jay Awareness Month started two weeks ago, people have been thinking about Blue Jays and wondering how smart they really are. That’s not an easy question to answer. Jim Baker once administered an IQ test to a classroom full of Blue Jays, but it didn’t go over too big. One of the jays flew out the window carrying her pencil, another pecked holes all over his answer sheet, and a third spent the whole test session swinging on the overhead light fixture.

We know that jays can count to at least 5, select fertile acorns with 88 percent accuracy, and never, ever smoke cigarettes. We could compare Blue Jay intelligence to that of adult humans, but I’m afraid we grownups wouldn’t stack up too well.

No, the only fair measure of Blue Jay intelligence would be in comparison with small children. So I brought a jay from Baker’s Blue Jay Barn over to the studio, where I just happen to have a little kids handy too.

What’s your name?

TOMMY: Tommy Erickson.

And your name?

(Jay recording)

That’s apparently Blue Jay talk for “Hi, I’m Mr. Jay.”

We’ll start with math. Tommy, what’s two plus two?

TOMMY: Four.

Mr. Jay, what’s three plus one?

(Jay recording) .

We’ll assume that call means “I don’t know,” and that puts Tommy ahead by one. Our next category is history. Tommy, who was the first president of the United States?

TOMMY: George Washington.

Mr. Jay, who is the president of the United States today?

(Jay recording like the last one.)

Hmmm.... that puts Tommy up by two. Now we’ll turn to geography. This particular jay, who was hatched in Rhinelander, spent his first winter in Illinois, then returned to the Rhinelander area with his mate when he was one year old. He spent that winter in the Northland, because he had a good supply of acorns stashed away. The following year, he and his mate got bitten by a travel bug and lit out for Texas, and again returned to Wisconsin the following spring. Tommy, if you wanted to do all that traveling, how would you find your way?

TOMMY: I don’t know.

Well, Tommy’s still ahead by one. Our final question is perhaps the ultimate test of native intelligence. Tommy, if you were talking on the phone to your best buddy Max and he suddenly told you he was putting you on hold because he had call waiting, what would you do?

TOMMY: I would sit around holding the phone, waiting.

How long would you wait?

TOMMY: Until he came back.

(Blue Jay recording)

We apparently can’t ask Mr. Jay the same question because he just fell over laughing. Blue Jay intelligence? You be the judge.


This is Jim Baker–spelled with one K and no, I’ve never been in Washington D.C. in my life. And hey–just to dispel another vicious rumor floating around and even reported in the Duluth News-Tribune, do I sound imaginary? Is this the voice of a figment of Laura Erickson’s imagination? No way, jo-jay.

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is a serious problem Blue Jays face every day. You know jays are articulate creatures and their voices carry good and far, yet sometimes a jay in a hurry needs to talk to someone who’s just too far to reach. That’s why I came up with Baker’s Blue Jay Cellular Phones.

Yep. My phones are light enough to be carried in flight by the tiniest 2 1/2 ounce jay, and my unique, patented push buttons are shaped exactly right for a jay’s beak to push without slipping off. Because Blue Jays have a small problem with illiteracy, all my phones have symbols as well as numbers on the buttons. Jays aren’t too advanced in the hand department, either, but my headphone set will make phone use easy and convenient, even in flight.

Never again will you waste expensive food on stupid squirrels while waiting for your jay to show up. He can phone ahead so you know just when to set out those peanuts. Your jay can warn his buddies about a predator without yelling his head off, dangerously calling the predator’s attention to himself. During migration he can call ahead to check out the weather at his destination. And when he finds a good supply of acorns or a squashed rabbit in the road, he can phone his friends so everyone can share in the feast.

Yep, reach out and touch your favorite jay with Baker’s Blue Jay Cellular Phones. Available only at Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, “Up the Shore a Ways.”

That was Jim Baker, I’m Laura Erickson, “and I’m Tommy Erickson, speaking for the birds.”