Friday, May 28, 2010

Mama Blue Jay

My husband will be the first to tell you that I tend to morph into a crazy bird lady as soon as our fine feathered friends start migrating back to balmy Ohio and it doesn’t require a snowsuit to fill the bird feeders.
“You spend more time and money feeding those birds than you do your own family” he jokes. But before he can say another word I stuff some suet in his mouth and go on my merry way.
I was never a birder in the past. Quite the opposite, I was the kind of person who made fun of them, with their binoculars draped around their pocketed brown vests with matching safari-style hat. But I never really took the time to realize why birding can be kind of fun and now I have guide books and binoculars with me all the time.
There are birds everywhere, from the deepest jungle to the busiest of city streets. They are the creatures of the air and if you stop and think about it, they’re as alien as the fish in the ocean. Somehow they manage to survive around us, adjusting and thriving with each new human obstacle thrown at them. They live in a balanced world up in the sky, with even the strangest of habits.
But enough of all that philosophical stuff.
Let’s talk blue jays.
Blue jays are, you can guess, blue. They’re also big and have a scary looking black beak that was made for smashing seeds and acorns, and one look at a blue jay up close and you’ll swear it’s going to peck your eyes out.
But the truth is that these birds are pretty smart for having a bird brain, and from a mother’s point of view, I can’t help but think that somewhere along the evolutionary chain they were made in an image of a good mom. So just what is it that makes me feel like a blue jay?
For one, they tend to sit up high in the trees and keep an excellent eye out on whatever is happening below. Kind of like how I watch out the kitchen window or sit on the back porch and watch my children play. At the very first sign of danger, whether it is a hawk, and owl, or even a dog or human, the “policeman of the woods” as I like to call them will let out a shriek that sounds like “jaaaay! jaaay!” or as I tell my kids, “heyyyy! heyyyy!” and instantly the animals who were just snacking happily away in tranquility will perk up their ears or fly off to safety.
Similar to when I call out “yellow jacket!” and my children all flail their arms and run in the house screaming like it’s the Apocalypse.
Secondly, the blue jay is a food hog. It hoards acorns all through the fall and then feasts away all winter long. It also will to any length to survive, even to go as far as raiding the nests of other birds for a few fresh eggs.
Not only that, but if it wants in at a delicious feeder of seed that is being hogged by puny little sparrows or other birds, smarty pants blue jay will mimic a hawk sound and scare the others away, free to feast all by itself.
Kind of like how when the kids are attacking an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies and I scold them and say that we’ll be eating in just a few minutes (even though I hadn’t even thought about dinner yet) and that they should run off and play.
And then I sit, in peaceful silence, with my very own cookies, and crack a smudged grin at the way the world works.
Heyyyy! Heyyyy!

**DID YOU KNOW: Blue Jays aren't really blue. Fun fact-- the feathers act like a prism in the sunlight and are not blue independent of the sun. Don't trust me? Find a blue jay feather and take it into the shade. Even better proof, smash it up with a rock a bit and destroy the "inner prism." Bye bye blue birdie.**

1 comments:

BECKY said...

I laughed at your husband's comment about the money spent on bird seed!! Between all our birds that stop by, we have bunnies eating the dropped pieces that fall into the grass..and we have the squirrels who pretty much take over the feeders AND the ground! But, I love watching them all! And so does my husband!! He fills the thingys more often than I do!

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