Verbosity vital to fill volumes of columns by Bob Karolevitz Call it writer�s block, but I was having trouble coming up with a suitable subject for my column when all of a sudden a couple of blue jays landed on our bird feeder.
Aha, I said. I�ve never written about them before. They�ll be an ideal topic for this week.
But then a question raised its ugly head. How can I stretch out the material about them to 700 words or so, which is the normal length for each column?
�Oh, you can do it,� Phyllis interjected. �You�re a master at verbosity.�
Verbosity! Maybe I should add that to my vocabulary; then I looked it up in the dictionary. it said: �containing more words than necessary.�
She really knows how to hurt a guy. But, on the other hand, she probably had something there.
So back to the blue jays, even if I am prolixious. (See? I can use big words, too.)
According to a clipping from the Farmer�s Almanac which I found in my cluttered files, those birds are more like humans than any others. They are rapacious (another good word), greedy, disorderly, noisy and sometimes irresponsible � but that�s stretching the point.
I know lots of people who don�t have those negative qualities. I�ve never believed the Farmer�s Almanac�s weather forecasts, and now I�ve got something else to find fault with.
Actually I think the blue jays which landed on our feeder are sort of beautiful. They�ve got that rakish crest on their heads, and the colors of their blue, black and white feathers stand out in all seasons.
I�ve got to admit that they are gluttons as they fill up on cracked corn and sunflower seeds, but they are smart enough not to go crashing into the picture window like the finches and juncoes do.
I�ve never seen Phyllis come into the house with a knocked out blue jay like she does with her other feathered friends which she has rescued and nursed back to health.
None of the other birds challenge the naughty blue jays when they are feeding, although the feisty little chickadees are not intimidated. They don�t seem to be scared at all.
Apparently the jays are the cousins of magpies, ravens and crows, but they are a lot prettier than their relatives. I can�t say that they sing any better, though, because their call is raucous and grating on the hearing aids. They might do well in a beauty contest, but in a musical competition they don�t stand a chance � unless, of course, their rivals are a heavy metal band.
(Now I�ve got less than 300 words to go.)
So what else can I say about blue jays?
Well, for one thing we�ve never been able to figure out which is the boy bird and which is the girl. I suppose we should just leave that up to the jays, however, as they seem to have that worked out okay since their numbers are not diminishing.
Oh, yes, and they can claim notoriety enough to be selected as a team name like other birds, i.e., the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baltimore Orioles. The Toronto club is called the Blue Jays, although in this case somebody said the Scrub Jays would be more fitting.
Sportswriters can hassle over that one on a quiet day, but I think that Blue Jays is better for a team name than other birds, not counting Cardinals and Orioles. For instance, you�ve never heard of the Salem Sparrows, the Saginaw Starlings or the Bellevue Blue-Faced Boobies, have you?
And that should be words enough. Verbosity wins again!
� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz