Test: Common Core: 4th Grade English Language Arts

Passage 1: Adapted from "The Busy Blue Jay" in True Bird Stories from My Notebooks by Olive Thorne Miller (1903). 
The following passage is from a book in which the author talks about raising and releasing into the wild birds that had been captured and sold as pets. 

One of the most interesting birds who ever lived in my Bird Room was a blue jay named Jakie. He was full of business from morning till night, scarcely ever a moment still.

Jays are very active birds, and being shut up in a room, my blue jay had to find things to do, to keep himself busy. If he had been allowed to grow up out of doors, he would have found plenty to do, planting acorns and nuts, nesting, and bringing up families. Sometimes the things he did in the house were what we call mischief because they annoy us, such as hammering the woodwork to pieces, tearing bits out of the leaves of books, working holes in chair seats, or pounding a cardboard box to pieces. But how is a poor little bird to know what is mischief?

One of Jakie’s amusements was dancing across the back of a tall chair, taking funny little steps, coming down hard, “jouncing” his body, and whistling as loud as he could. He would keep up this funny performance as long as anybody would stand before him and pretend to dance, too.

My jay was fond of a sensation. One of his dearest bits of fun was to drive the birds into a panic. This he did by flying furiously around the room, feathers rustling, and squawking as loud as he could. He usually managed to fly just over the head of each bird, and as he came like a catapult, every one flew before him, so that in a minute the room was full of birds flying madly about trying to get out of his way. This gave him great pleasure.

Wild blue jays, too, like to stir up their neighbors. A friend told me of a small party of blue jays that she saw playing this kind of a joke on a flock of birds of several kinds. These birds were gathering the cherries on the top branches of a big cherry tree. The jays sat quietly on another tree till the cherry-eaters were busy eating. Then suddenly the mischievous blue rogues would all rise together and fly at them, as my pet did at the birds in the room. It had the same effect on the wild birds; they all flew in a panic. Then the joking jays would return to their tree and wait till their victims forgot their fear and came straggling back to the cherries, when they repeated the fun.

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Passage 2: Adapted from "Cyanocitta cristata: Blue Jay" in Life Histories of North American Birds, From the Parrots to the Grackles, with Special Reference to Their Breeding Habits and Eggs by Charles Bendire (1895)

The beauty of few of our local birds compares to that of the Blue Jay. One can’t help admiring them for their amusing and interesting traits. Even their best friends can’t say much in their favor, though. They destroy many of the eggs and young of our smaller birds. A friend of mine writes, “The smaller species of birds are utterly at [the Blue Jay’s] mercy in nesting time. Few succeed in rearing a brood of young. It is common in the woods to hear Vireos lamenting for their young that the Jay has forcibly carried away. Vast numbers of eggs are eaten and the nests torn up.”

Still, I cannot help admiring Blue Jays, because they have good traits as well. They are cunning, inquisitive, good mimics, and full of mischief. It is difficult to paint them in their true colors. Some writers call them bullies and cowards. Perhaps they deserve these names at times, but they possess courage in the defense of their young. But it is unfortunate that they show so little consideration for the feelings of other birds.

It is astonishing how accurately the Blue Jay is able to imitate the various calls and cries of other birds. These will readily deceive anyone. They seem to delight in playing tricks on their unsuspecting neighbors in this manner, apparently out of pure mischief. They are especially fond of teasing owls, and occasionally hawks; however, sometimes this has disastrous results for the Blue Jays.


Both passages characterize blue jays as __________.



friendly towards other birds


1/2 questions


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