January 31, 2023

Tricking a Gorby May Prove Fatal

The Bangor Daily News carried a piece by Bob Duchesne who wondered if it was possible to train a Gorby (Canada Jay) to kill and eat winter ticks off the back of moose: “…could gray jays be trained to eat ticks? In a controlled experiment where jays were given the choice between eating bread or a fat, juicy, engorged tick, the jays chose the tick every time. What would happen if you brought a stuffed moose into the woods, sprinkled some bread and engorged ticks on the haunches, and called in the jays? Would they learn to eat ticks off moose, and teach others to do it?”

It all sounds a bit romantic…perhaps a bit ludicrous. You see, not everyone knows that there is more to a Gorby than wondering whether or not you can train one to eat ticks off a moose’s back.

A Gorby can develop trust in a man. If a man betrays that trust, according to Maine humorist Joe Perham, terrible things can happen. In the story told by Perham, a lumberjack of years gone by betrayed the trust of a Gorby and come morning, his hair and teeth fell out.

To “trick” a Gorby into believing a stuffed moose with transplanted ticks devised as a training mechanism, might be a violation of trust and thus there is no telling what might become of someone who tried.

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Gorby Falling Down on the Job?

Earlier I posted some history from a book called “Away From it All” by Dorothy Boone Kidney. In that post it was about attacks on humans by bears and the history of the Lock Dam on Chamberlain Lake in the Allagash of Northern Maine.

The same friend who sent that information also sent me a short quip about gorbys, the Canada jay, and how one of the jay’s names is “moose bird” because the moose allows the gorby to land and ride on him or her and feed on ticks. We have recently learned that a combination of a harsh winter and an overabundance of winter ticks, a gorby’s delicacy, killed a lot of moose. Are there just too many moose with ticks that the gorby can’t keep up? Or not enough gorbys?