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A Mockingbird and Blue Jay Seeking Shelter from Rain

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Florida Field Naturalist
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A Mockingbird and Blue Jay Seeking Shelter from Rain

No articles or notes were found in the literature on the behavior of avian forms during various intensities of precipitation. Dawson has recorded the incidence of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) killed by a rain storm (Dawson, D.G. 1967. Roosting Sparrow (Passer domesticus) killed by a Rainstorm, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, Notornis, 14: 208­210). Hickman attributed the death of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) to heavy ground fog and rain (Hickman, G. L. 1972. Dead Great Blue Heron found at 11,000 foot Utah Elevation. Great Basin Naturalist, 32(2) :112).

Heavy rain showers fell with varied intensity during the morning and afternoon of 24 May 1970 in Vero Beach, Florida, following the dissipation of Hurricane Alma. I saw a Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) on 4 occasions (Figure 1) and a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) on 2 occasions actively seeking shelter on a small branch located under a larger limb of a Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). The shelter was occupied only during high precipitation intensities which lasted for periods of 5 to 8 minutes. When the rainfall decreased, the bird left the shelter within seconds. The crown, nape, back, scapulars, and rump feathers of both birds appeared to be saturated.

Once, when the Mockingbird occupied the "shelter branch", the Blue Jay appeared but, seeing it occupied, flew down approximately 9 feet, lighting on the outside extension of my home air conditioner. Although the Blue Jay directed chiding vocalizations toward the Mockingbird, it did not elicit any observable behavioral responses from the Mockingbird.

At 1706 hours on 25 June 1970, during a heavy thundershower, I again saw a Mockingbird on the same "shelter branch." It departed at 1723 hours coinciding with a moderation of rainfall.

Gary L. Hickman

355 South Dixie Highway, Vero Beach, Florida 32960.

Figure 1. A Mockingbird setting on a "shelter branch" during high precipitation intensities.

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