I’ll let you in on a little-known secret, John Jay’s real name is Petey.
I feel like it’s a good time to come clean, as summer reminds me each year of the many birds that become imprinted by Good Samaritans that think they are doing the right thing when they find a young bird on the ground and make the decision to care for them.
Petey’s name came from the person that originally scooped him up. He was taken from his parents, brought into a home, hand fed, and treated like a pet - not knowing what the implications would be in the long run. By the time Petey arrived to an avian rehabilitation center, it was too late. Despite attempts to reconnect him with his bird family and interaction with other wild Blue Jays, licensed professionals confirmed Petey as a human imprint and not a candidate for release into the wild. Petey has always known the name Petey, so working with him at Beidler we use the name he knows (and now you do too).
Life for Petey is much different from wild Blue Jays. He associates and identifies with people, not birds. He depends on people to provide him food, interaction and enrichment. He doesn’t know any different life than the one he has. I wish his life would have been different, but he is a great education ambassador for Audubon, even when he’s a bit sassy.
Caring for an imprinted Blue Jay has its challenges. Like wild jays, Petey can be stubborn or aggressive at times. He also is very social, loving, and likes to share items he finds with staff, volunteers, and sometimes even guests.
Now that the Visitor Center is open, Petey is getting much more attention from guests – and he appreciates the TLC. Give him a shout out when you visit his enclosure and learn more about what to do if you find a young bird in your yard on our new FAQ page. Share with family, friends, and neighbors to keep South Carolina birds wild!