Steller’s, Part Two: An Intimate Affair

I might have, had I imagined, known that the Steller’s Jay and I had not yet reached the limits of what our new friendship might hold. But I missed it, as, while I have years of experience raising and caring for canaries, and finches, and chickens, and a duck named Peggy (which ended very badly a long time ago in Sausalito and let’s just leave it that it involved a raccoon, boo hoo hoo) all of which I found amazingly enriching, but even though I befriended the scrub jays and fed them for years, I have never, ever, had an experience with a wild bird like the one I’m having this spring with my Steller’s Jay friend, whom I’ve now named Pretty (and, actually, had last year). It’s endearing and almost a little unnerving, so unexpected is the level of contact and communication, and we are so not at the end of this, God willing.

I think I noticed the shift at the beginning of the week, when I was alerted that I was not alone on the front porch as I sat in the early morning sun doing a bit of meditation, taking in the sun’s warming rays while I focused inside, grounding and centering in preparation for the day’s work. No. Something was moving about. What? I laughed when I opened my eyes and found the Steller’s Jay, Pretty, sitting in a nearby camellia bush, but not passively. Oh, no. Actively trying to get my attention. Hop. Hop. Hop. From branch to branch and all the while watching me. Clearly a calling for delicious peanuts. What have I done?

I abandoned my perch and obediently went inside to husk a few treasures for him, knowing full well he would not abandon his endeavor, but, most likely would be in the back garden, anticipating my return. Indeed.

But, come on. This needs to be a two-way street. So if I’m going to be at the beck and call of a brave and bold Steller’s Jay, I want something in return. Photo shoots. A subject. Oh, yes. So I did not come with simply shelled peanuts. I came with my Pentax, opened and ready to go.

I had begun experimenting with putting peanuts up higher now that Pretty was more familiar with me, because it was the most practical way of getting closer shots without my having to, oh, say, lie on the ground. So he already knew compromise was afoot. And he had been cooperating. He was a bit wary, but his love of the peanuts and the growing trust won out.

I was stunned by his coloration when I viewed this.

I was especially fond of this one, as he took off with his catch–so ethereal.

Feeling that I no longer need be so cautious, I decided to experiment with backgrounds and surfaces once again. How about the picnic table? He had to consider for a moment.

But not that long!

I am finding this exchange inordinately wonderful, a true blessing. I will treat as gently and carefully and lovingly as I can, and learn what I may and pass along as the story unfolds. I enter knowing that all such interspecies exchanges are tenuous, especially with birds, but I also know I’m witnessing the (current) end result of a creature whose history lies within the dinosaur kingdom, many many millions of years ago. We are just the next on stage in this lovely dance.

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: I had the most lovely surprise this week when I received a tweet from a gardening blogger in Georgia whom I had thanked in previous days for recommending the indie bookstore BookPeople in Austin, Texas, where copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy have just gone on sale. Garden designer Nancy Wallace pinned and tweeted me thusly, which I found very kind: @KathrynHallPR a post about your book video trailer & how your book got to BookPeople http://bit.ly/J3ZmvB #gardening

8 Responses to “Steller’s, Part Two: An Intimate Affair”

  1. How lovely, mom! Great pictures! Pretty, indeed.

    Love you,
    Antonia
    xoxo

  2. The summer I turned 10, a baby robin fell, too young, out of a nest at our Indiana country home. We brought him/her in and managed to raise and then fledge him/her and released, expecting to see the bird take off and never return. Instead, the robin stayed around all summer, insisting that my Dad go out and dig worms for it each morning. The bird would ride around the yard on our shoulders and sit on our heads. As the summer worn on, he/she would be gone for longer & longer times inbetween sightings. That fall, Mom was out in the garden and our robin swooped down one more time to say goodbye and then migrated south with the other robins from the yard. I’ll never forget the experience. Have a great time with your Stellar’s Jay. Julie

  3. Hi, Antonia! Glad you are enjoying. Looking forward to introducing you personally! :) Love, Mom xoxo

  4. Hi, Julie, Oh, how endearing! I didn’t know a robin might do this as well. What a lovely experience for you as a child. There must be many stories like this, but I think we rarely hear of them. Love, Kathryn xoxo

  5. What amazing photographs, Kathryn. Lovely post.

  6. Hi, Nancy and welcome and many many thanks! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Of course I’ll vote right after I comment. The color on Pretty is truly amazing. We don’t have Steller’s Jays here. Just the regular Blue Jay, but I love their raucous talk in the garden. Also, ever since I wrote the piece about crows, I find I enjoy their conversation as I work outside. I do love birds. Thanks.~~Dee

  8. Hi, Dee, Yes, aren’t they wonderful? It takes some getting used to, I think. Once one has had a friendly experience with one I think we become more fond of their songs. I definitely had to do some inner adjusting on my perception of the many ravens that live here! Love them now! Thanks for the visit–and the vote! Kathryn xoxo

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