Blue (from “Utterances of Alalcol,” 1861)

A woodpecker said one day to a blue jay, ‘How do you get such a reputation? I should like to learn your art, for with every endeavor I find it hard to get a name, or to make a good living.’ ‘Ha, ha!’ cried the blue jay, ‘it is by making a noise with my voice that I prevail; people suppose that where there is such a verbal strain and torrent of sounds, there must be some sense. I always light on the topmost boughs; never sit long in a place; scream as loud as I can, and by continually flitting about, and showing my feathers, produce the idea that I am very wise, as well as a very active and valuable bird. while you always light on dry trees, where there is nothing to shade you, and toil with a sort of mechanical industry, making sounds that are not only monotonous but not at all musical. The truth is,’ continued the jay, ‘I am a talker, a blusterer, a stormer; my father and mother were talkers, blusterers, and stormers. I take the ear of people, not like you with a peck, peck, peck! but by a flourish of sounds.’ ‘Heigho!’ answered the woodpecker, ‘I should never get a living by such a life. I am, as you see by the red paint on my head, a warrior; and the animals I hunt are so deeply down in the trunks of old trees that I am obliged to plunge in my war-like bill after them, and my daily pecking is my war-whoop.’

Utterances of Alalcol, 1861