Posted by Abe on May 20, 2005
In Reply to: Naked as a jaybird posted by ESC on May 19, 2005
: : What is the origin of "naked as a jaybird"?
: From a previous reply of mine in the archives:
: : : : It seems to me that someone said baby jaybirds are especially featherless. Anyway, the "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Vol. II, H-O" by J.E. Lighter (Random House, New York, 1997) says: "naked as a jaybird, stark naked." It lists as a couple of citations: 1893 James "Mavrick" 27: He will have the humbug qualifications of cow-boy stripped from his poor worthless carcass so quickly that he would feel like a jay bird with his tail feathers gone. 1922 in DARE: I gwi' strip nakit ez a jaybu'd befo' 'e fedduh' grow!
Just a related story: in the Midwest US there was a blue and white bird called a jay bird. The young birds tended to get rowdy and fall from then nest before they had any significant feathers. An uncle who told me stories about birds attributed the expression to this behavior of the local jay bird.