Honestly, this story begins a full two years ago, even though it culminates in the last three days in these pictures. It began with a single bird talking to himself somewhere near my large back garden, though clearly not in my garden. The chattering reminded me of the same kind of talking on and on that English budgies get into, clearly a joy simply in hearing oneself talk. Anyone who has had budgies will know of what I’m speaking. But just to make it crystal clear, if you will go here, and listen solely to the Male Song, you will hear what I heard. I was actually a bit alarmed as I truly thought someone’s budgie had escaped. But no amount of searching gave me a peek at the songster.
The next year the same thing happened. However, simultaneously I began spotting a large blue jay back in my apple tree to my huge delight. Initially I never put the song I’d heard and this new blue beauteous addition together. But I began to research him and discovered he was a Steller’s Jay. Eventually I did see him singing his song and was amazed he was the singer, as I expect the sounds of jays to be rather raucous. I looked forward to his occasional visits and made a point of making it clear to him I could be trusted, speaking gently to him, sending him a deep love and appreciation for his showing up in my garden!
Anyone who has followed this blog over time might well recall that there are an abundance of scrubjays in Mendocino County, and I have written about them and my experiences “taming them”. (Though one might say they have tamed me, as they forged relationships with humans long before I was around.) The more I explore the jay families and their habits the more I have enlarged my view of their larger family, the cordivae, which includes the crows and ravens, who are also in abundance in this very rugged county, and in so doing I have gained more and more respect for their kind. I’m certain they appeal to me not only for their strength and ingenuity, but also for their charming willingness to trust their own judgment and elect with whom they will be friends and with whom not. And, most of all, to remember. As in for years. And this has been documented. They, indeed, remember who has been kind to them and they are loyal to the connection, though I am not naive. I know their primary interest is in Who Brings Food. (I do.) However, there is another layer to this, the fact that the cordivae family mate for life. And Steller’s Jays have been known to live for up to 16 years, that we know about. Loyalty to their mates intrigues me and makes me wonder about that evolutionary choice. Regardless, I like it. It endears them to me.
You might imagine my delight when this year not only the male Steller’s Jay showed up. He had a mate! I was thrilled when I spotted them through my kitchen window tugging at a camellia branch, which only meant one thing. A nest was in the making! I wished very much it would be in my garden, a discovery I have yet to make. Nevertheless, they are here, close by, and our connection was accelerated rapidly over the last few days, as you shall here see.
Those of you in the Pacific Northwest know we have received a very late gift from Mother Nature–a profoundly delayed winter full of rain. So my initial foray into seeking out the pair this week was in a gloomy morning in the far back of the garden under the apple tree, the most likely place to find them. I whistled. I was quite surprised (and thrilled) that out he came, straightaway, onto a lower branch nearby.
I carefully placed peanuts on a nearby sidewalk, hoping I might entice him. Suddenly the second one emerged from an adjacent bush, but he scolded her and she flew back into hiding. Hmmm. Would I lose them both? No.
Peanuts are tempting. And delicious. And I apparently pass his test. Lucky me!
Suddenly the female emerged and grabbed a peanut or two. Imagine my surprise to see she also bore a crest on her head and looked nearly identical! Somehow I’d assumed she would be less flamboyant, as is so often true.
I was grateful for these initial shots (and the warming connection).
The next day I gave it another try. It had been raining now for days. Inches of rain. So I was not sure what to expect. Again, after a brief calling, out he popped, this time from a different direction. Poor thing. A bit fluffed up.
But willing. And far less afraid, even though I was much closer this time.
Wow. We’re really getting somewhere!
So you can imagine that today, with the sun finally shining, I had to give it another go. I called mid-morning. No one came. I left peanuts on the ground, and an hour or so later they were gone, so, encouraged, I went out one more time with another round of peanuts and my camera. By now I thought there was enough trust I might actually be able to get a much closer shot and just dragged the chair onto the sidewalk and sat and called. Bingo.
This lovely new friend now approached numerous times, with succeeding confidence, until each peanut had been garnered.
I am so fortunate to have him in my animal family. I look forward to learning all that I can.
May you be so blessed in your own gardens.
Love and birdie blessings,
Book Notes: Biggest news this period is that Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is now available both as a paperback and as a Nook book on Barnes & Noble, who has elected to discount the book. Get your copy today!
Also, good news for Austinites. Plant Whatever Brings You Joy is now available at Book People, one of Austin’s finest indie bookstores!
To view trailer for Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, visit YouTube!
Posted on April 1st, 2012 by Kathryn
Filed under: Animals