In addition to being a small-time bird-watcher, I'm also a big-time vicarious bird-watcher. I'm a huge fan of the website Flickr, and I just love keeping up-to-date with the serious birders. I think I'm most interested in what's going in in my area. Sure, the photos of Costa Rica are brilliant, but there's something so exciting about seeing the local beauties.
One photographer who has really inspired me is Lorcan Keeting. He has earned the trust of the local Western Scrub Jays, who fly in his apartment windows and take naps on his bookcases. They also eat peanuts from his outstretched hand. Click here and here and here for some of his photos.
In my grandparents' home, where I learned to love nature, there was a framed photograph of my aunt, with a chickadee perched on her hand. I had always wished for an experience like that.
So I won't lie. When I realized that scrub jays regularly visited our yard, I made a point of setting out nuts, when they were watching. I wanted them to associate the sight of me and Robb with good things.
Today, I came home for lunch. My work day was scheduled with a bit of a lull in the afternoon, and I've been feeling miserably nauseous with some weird stomach ailment. We're too busy for me to take time off from work, but I did manage to carve out an hour and a half of "down time."
A pair of jays were jumping around overhead, and I thought "why not?" I set some peanuts out on the top of our fence. Peanuts, apparently, are the most delicious food in the entire world. The jays kept coming back for more, and more. (They would fly off with a gullet-full, to cache, who-knows-where. Read about this behavior, here.)
The birds seemed totally un-threatened by my proximity. I was emboldened.
I sat down on our glider, took a handful of peanuts and stretched out my arm.
A jay swooped down to assess the situation. It cocked its head, and looked and looked. It hopped from branch to branch. And then it made a neat landing on the back of the glider, and stared at my hand. A second later, it had grabbed a nut, and then another, and then another.
This was as magical an experience as I could have imagined. And it repeated itself, again and again.
I had to head back to work, and Robb took over bird-feeding.
Sure, these photos are pretty stinky, but the experience itself was enchanting.