One of my two friends the fledgling blue jays.
I had some almonds in my pocket one morning in early summer when I went out into the garden. Out of curiosity, I set a few of them on a patio table and sat in a chair nearby to see if the most gregarious birds in my garden--the blue jays--would stop by for a treat.
It wasn't long before they did. And I had so much fun watching them take the almonds and hide them around the yard--stopping to eat one from time to time--that I got into the habit of taking treats out in the morning for the jays.
Can you see that the jay has at least two almonds in his beak? They take two or three and hide them for later.
As I watched them I began to realize they were fledglings--young birds who still had a few downy feathers underneath their tails. At first, a more mature bird dropped in from time to time. Their mother? But these days it is just the two young birds.
I vowed I wouldn't leave out bird food in a feeder. I've had ones in the past and they tend to attract squirrels, rats, and then the local cats learn to lurk beneath them, hungrily eyeing the birds as juicy prey.
So I just bring out a few peanuts, sunflower seeds and songbird seed each morning and sit for a few minutes watching the entertaining actions of the jays. They know me now and I can put the food very close to me and they will take it.
They always take turns with each other. Each waiting until the other has scooped up what he wants and has flown away before the next takes his turn. One likes peanuts most, and one favors sunflowers seeds.
When I get tired of watching or have something else I have to do, I scoop up the remaining seeds and put them in a sealed tin on the patio.
You can't please everyone, though, and no good deed goes unpunished.
I went out to sit on the back patio late today to read my mail and the jays were busy elsewhere so I didn't put out any peanuts or seeds. But a squirrel, who has clearly been watching this whole mise en scene over the last weeks, dashed over and sat on a branch directly across from me.
And he started to scold me. Yap yap yap yap eeeeeek eeeeek eeek, he went on as he watched me sitting there. Yap yap yap eeeek eeek eeek. He stared at me and kept it up for several minutes. And he wouldn't quit. It was obvious he was expecting something from me. He figured after all my largess to the jays it was now his turn.
He has no idea how I feel about squirrels. How they've nibbled at my pumpkins and stolen my walnuts and robbed me of all my apricots and cherries.
I rose from the patio chair and the squirrel, no fool he, stopped chattering. Ah, he thought, she's going to get some of that stuff. So he paused in his scolding. And watched.
I walked over to my potting table in the breezeway, where I keep my gardening tools and other odds and ends for the garden, picked up something useful and returned to my chair on the patio. The squirrel eyed me hungrily.
I threw that golf ball I'd found in my garden straight at him. It didn't hit him, of course, but it did make a big noise when it hit the fence. The squirrel dashed away with a yelp and lots of further chattering. And unless he plans to sprout blue feathers, I don't look forward to any further discussions with him.
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