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Gallery: An Azure Guard of Blue Jays

Illustration of a hawk being mobbed by a lot of blue, black and white birds.
By Jake Messing.

From the Spring 2024 issue of Living Bird magazine. Subscribe now.

Artist Jake Messing creates lush, collage-like works that are a modern take on colorful, Baroque-era still lifes. He draws inspiration from the life-and-death cycles of nature, and the interesting or unusual behaviors he’s observed while exploring the outdoors, such as shrikes impaling their prey and cardinals attacking car mirrors. For his watercolor Azure Guard, he was inspired by an observation of mobbing behavior during a late-summer trip to the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York. “We saw a group of three Blue Jays land in a tree near a perching red-tail, and then start dive-bombing and making a bunch of noise,” says Messing. Unlike the Red-tailed Hawk in his painting, Messing says the hawk he saw getting mobbed “didn’t seem like it cared too much.”

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library

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