Song sung blue
Thursday May 03rd 2012, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

Thank you everybody for the kind words re Uncle Rosel.

Before we left for the graduations, I stuffed three suet cake holders, one new, one extra big, to try to feed the birds after the feeder would be running dry.

During those two weeks a lot of the new baby birds that were just starting to show up got a lot bigger, and again this year we have a junco/house finch hybrid, though I haven’t seen the parental pair this season (that’s an old picture); the little offspring is tiny with short legs and absolutely adorable.

But. There was now a threesome of Pacific scrub jays, and I’m assuming they were young ones just starting to look to find their own place, but that’s a guess. Gorgeous birds, but they are cousins of crows with the bad manners to match and they had totally taken over in our absence.

My beloved wrens had vanished. My towhees wouldn’t come up on the box where I can see them better–I didn’t even see one anywhere for the first few days.

Hey. Where was everybody?

A black-headed grosbeak showed up briefly. That helped.

I found I couldn’t put food out for the ground feeders or the jays not only would take it, they bullied everyone else away–even the squirrels are afraid of them. There’s always been a little of this, but not the constant bombardment happening now.

And so for the last two days, with a shawl project in hand that I wanted done fast, I set myself up in front of the glass door with a loaded supersoaker. I knitted. I kept my eyes up.

At first they were swooping in constantly, one after another, tag-teaming me, it seemed. I had set out suet crumbles and they wanted them badly: this was *their* territory.

Oh no it’s not! Let’s set that straight right now, folks.

They watched me all day: if I went out of the room, they were there the moment my head went around the corner. I could yell all I wanted but they knew I could not get that door open and that squirt gun raised in time to actually get them wet, that they had time to scoop up a beakful before running. Again and again and again. But I still squirted in their direction in a display of territory.

Gradually, though, the challenges grew further apart. They even stopped scooping the food, just flying in behind the tomato plants (temporarily near the end of the box) as if I wouldn’t see them and then giving up and flying after I yelled and approached.

We repeated that little bit of drama today, only, this time I pulled a magazine over the food any time I walked out. Should have thought of that sooner.

And today, for the first time since we came back, a towhee dared come back up on that box again. One of the Bewick’s wrens made an appearance at the far end of the patio. The Oregon juncos and oak titmice and chestnut-backed chickadees had a grand old time. And at about 7:30 I finished the shawl.

The biologist who writes for the local paper says that jays, like mockingbirds, are great mimics. He tells of one that sounded like a truck backing up, another that parroted speech.

I wonder which neighbor is going to hear one singing, Hey! GIT!

7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This post was great fun to read Alison. Jays can sure be bullies…at least they’re nice to look at. That’s an impressive diligence there with the super-soaker. I am sure the Towhees and Wrens appreciate your stalwart stand against the Scrub Jay tyranny. Liberty for the suet!!!

Have a great weekend.

Comment by Laurence Butler 05.04.12 @ 8:31 am

Bring in the Cavalry! Call the United Nations! Call up the water soakers! How about just turning on the hose?

Comment by Don Meyer 05.04.12 @ 9:03 am

I bet you’re the only knitter-designer who does so with a supersoaker at the ready, on squirrel patrol…

Comment by Channon 05.04.12 @ 9:09 am

You know, of course, that May is Lupus Awareness Month.

Comment by Don Meyer 05.04.12 @ 9:11 am


Comment by DebbieR 05.04.12 @ 12:28 pm

In a case of missing the blindingly obvious, I just figured out that part of the magic of Alison’s way with birds is plain hard work. Nice job!

Comment by twinsetellen 05.06.12 @ 8:38 am

ive got some jays around here that sound like the Push-To-Talk sound on Sprint phones. unless that’s one of their normal sounds.

Comment by Tola 05.10.12 @ 7:50 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>