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Today 31/8/2015 Week 36
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Wachtwoord vergeten?
Vlaamse Gaai

Verborgen zangtalent.

Iedereen met een beetje vogelhart wist het al: de Vlaamse gaai heeft de stad ontdekt. Van schuwe bosvogel is hij nu een alledaagse verschijning in de stadstuinen en parken. En dat is beslist een aanwinst. De gaai is niet alleen mooi. Hij beschikt ook over onvermoede talenten. Zingen bijvoorbeeld. En bomen planten!

Onverwacht talent
Je zou het niet zeggen, maar de kleurrijke gaai is toch écht familie van de zwarte kraai!
Ze stammen beide uit de familie van raven en kraaien en behoren tot de orde der zangvogels. Nu denk je bij zangvogels al snel aan soorten als merel, zanglijster, tjiftjaf of vink. Wie de gaai een beetje kent, weet dat hij kan schreeuwen en krijsen dat het een lieve lust is. Maar soms, als je geluk hebt, betrap je hem tijdens een mooie maartse dag op een lief, zacht en innig liedje. Dat vergt een geoefend oor, want luid is het niet. Het is eerder een soort prevelen, en het lijkt uit de verte te komen. Maar vanuit een boom, niet ver onder de top, kan de gaai zo soms wel een half uur lang genoeglijk bezig zijn. En daarmee geeft hij nóg een onverwachte talent bloot: de kunst van het imiteren. Zijn melodietjes zijn voor bijna honderd procent gestolen van andere zangvogels! Wie een beetje bekend is met vogelgeluiden, herkent er allerlei soorten in.

Geuzennaam
Het is een beetje speculeren waar nu precies dat "Vlaamse" vandaan komt. Volgens sommigen ligt de oorsprong in het "vlammende" roodbruine verenkleed en zou Vlaams een verbastering zijn van het Franse flambant, vlammend. Maar volgens een andere lezing zou de soort in wat nu België is voor het eerst in het Waalse, Franstalige deel zijn omschreven als gay (gaai). Om zich toch vooral te onderscheiden, voegden de Nederlandstalige zuiderburen er vervolgens Vlaamse aan toe. Maar niet in de provincie Antwerpen, waar menigeen de vogel nog simpel "rotzak" noemt. Oké, gaaien roven soms wel eens eieren of jonge vogeltjes. Maar dat is de natuur. Want voor alle duidelijkheid: de gaai eet toch vooral zaden, vruchten, insecten, slakken, wormpjes en spinnen. Nee, dan de Fransen. Die noemen hem toepasselijk geai des chênes, gaai van de eiken. Net als de Duitsers, die hem als eichelhäher kennen. Weer een andere variant is de Friese geuzennaam houtekster. Allemaal namen die verwijzen naar die andere zo wonderlijke eigenschap van de gaai:het hamsteren van eikels.

Appels op zolder, aardappelen in de kelder, bramensap in de pot en van alles in de weck. In heel wat huishoudens was dat vroeger de wintervoorraad. Ook sommige vogels kennen. De kunst van het hamsteren. De gaai is hier wel de meester. Vanaf eind september begint de seizoensarbeid van het eikels verzamelen. Massa's eikels, elke gaai welzo'n 5000. Per oogst ronde gaan er drie tot vijf in de keelzak, de grootste blijft in de snavel. Dan wordt de omgeving geïnspecteerd. Liggen er geen gaai-concurrenten op de loer? Dan vliegt hij met volle snavel van hot naar her. Natuurlijk ontvalt hem dan een wel eens een eikel, maar da's dan jammer. Of juist niet, want deze krijgt de kans uit te groeien tot een heuse boom. De gaai stopt zijn verzameling eikels netjes in de grond, en die vormen tot ver in het voorjaar zijn stapelvoedsel. Zelfs onder een laag sneeuw weet de gaai de eikels meestal terug te vinden. En als hij in het voorjaar wat vergeetachtig wordt, dan brengen de kiemplantjes hem op het spoor van de verstopplaats. De gaai peuzelt de dan nog aanwezige zaadlobben van de zaailingen op. En de zaailing kan verder uit groeien tot een volwassen eik!

Tot de volgende keer.

Oh ja...wat ik met de Vlaamse gaai heb? Tsja, het is een buitengewoon mooie vogel. Maar meerdere dingen die uit België komen zijn mooi. Denk aan de Vlaamse frieten en de bonbons!!

Anthonie

 
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