Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Completely Enchanting!


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.


Sylvana said...

Awesome! They are bold birds. And beautiful.

Steve, Christa, Emily, Meghan, Charles & Elizabeth said...

when I was very young I would sit on the deck with sunflower seeds in my hand and on top of my cowboy hat trying to feed Chickadees, I managed to get them to eat off of my hat but never my hand.
Very cool pictures.

beth said...

I love these photos! What a lovely bird. Thanks for sharing :)


Cindy Garber Iverson said...

The photos aren't stinky at all and what a magical experience! WOW! I would have been holding my breath the entire time. I don't know how you managed to peel yourself away to go back to work.

Nichole Campbell said...

Beautiful! I'm guessing Linguine enjoyed the scenery too!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Cindy - I should clarify. I'm actually quite happy with the first two photos. Those weren't taken yesterday, but some time ago.

Nichole - Linguine was fast asleep in our office. But I did chuck a few pens and shoes at the overly interested feral kitties.

Kellyann Brown said...

I don't know about stinky... the detail of the feathers in the last picture... brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I love when that stuff happens! The birds could probably tell your tummy wasnt good and you were not eager to eat them! Blue Jays are known to be really aggressive, so make sure they dont fly down and poke you guys in the head, thinking you are now their own personal pez dispenser who has a supply of peanuts in your hands!

On the other hand, I was indeed a bird seed dispensing gal in Michigan. I would have a ziplock baggie of birdseed in my pocket and the local ducks would follow me ANYWHERE to get a nice big pile of some to munch. Good thing I ran out of birdseed before I went back into the house!


Eliza said...

I love the photos! Nice job hand feeding. Lately I seem to keep having conversations about birds some people hate (always corvids). I can't count how many people tell me they hate jays (albeit our eastern ones). And birders turn up their noses because they are common. What's not to like about brilliant blue intelligent birds though? So what if they steal cat food. :)

Gail said...

It was completely enchanting...and magical! The photos are beautiful~what a good looking bird. gail

Town Mouse said...

Amazing! You know, I have mixed feelings about jays because they so bully the other birds -- not to mention that they eat their eggs -- but I'm sure it was enchanting to be so close to that bird. And they are very smart. Congratulations!

Meredith said...

What an amazing experience! I'm now officially jealous. ;) I've never even seen a scrub jay -- but our regular old jays are not so friendly... or pretty.


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