We have six backyard bird feeders, which we fill with an assortment of seed, fruit and nuts.
It amazes me how quickly the birds find it.
At first we just fed the black oiled sunflower seeds and got thousands of sparrows for our effort and a few (too few in my opinion) chickadees. When I put out the peanuts it took about three hours for the first blue jay to show up.
How does that work? Do they talk to sparrows or chickadees?
”Hey bud, the feeder over there has some of those horrid big seeds that you yammer on about all the time.”
”Big seeds? What are you talking about little bird? You mean peanuts? They have peanuts? OMG! SQAWK! SQAWK!”
Or maybe they smell them. Do birds smell things? I suppose they must. For some reason I only associate sniffing abilities with soft flesh covered noses, not hard beaks, which is kind of a weird assumption when you think about it.
Anyway, now we have lots of blue jays, as well as sparrows, chickadees, magpies and the odd raven and woodpecker.
About a month ago a singular Stellar blue jay showed up and she has been a daily customer at the feeders ever since.
I don’t really know if the stellar jay is a she, but I like to call her Stella so it works better that way. When I see her at the feeder I announce it by theatrically yelling (in a stage whisper so as not to scare her away) Stella! Stella! Stella!
You know, like in Streetcar Named Desire.
If I learn more and can figure out the difference and I’m wrong, I guess I will just have to call Stella Stanley instead.
Stella doesn’t care what I call her, so long as I fill the feeders with nuts.
She’s bold and bossy. While other birds fly off when I come outside, Stella flies in. When I go back inside and the other birds return, she tries to chase them away. However, with six feeders that can prove an exhausting undertaking and eventually she just chills out, settles in and eats.
Apparently stellar jays can mimic the sounds of other animals and birds, often parroting (stellar jaying?) birds of prey to scare other birds away from the feeders. Maybe Stella does this as well.
No one chases Stella and this worries me. Why is she the only stellar jay? Did her flock move somewhere for winter and leave her behind? Did her mate dump her or maybe die? Is she grieving and is that the reason she seems indifferent to human stranger danger and is so grouchy and bossy with the other birds? Or did her mate and/or flock dump her BECAUSE she is so grouchy and bossy?
Though generally no one becomes grouchy without someone else inflicting pain, even if that someone is the simply the voice in ones own head.
That certainly can be the way of things in the human world.
A few hard knocks and a person withdraws. A couple more and they become defensive and grouchy. Eventually they are making sure they’re the ones actively doing the rejecting. Get within feeder distance and they will run you off before you can so much as muster up a, “Hey, how ya doing?”
I don’t know what the answer is, but sharing your nuts is always a good place to start. Even if some won’t share them back. Maybe especially if others won’t share them back.
As the saying goes, “Hurting people, hurt people.”
Maybe hurting birds, hurt birds. Or maybe Stella just really, really, likes peanuts.
Short of settling Stella onto our couch while I sit nearby with a pad and pen on my knee, ready to record her fears, tears and anger issues, I will never know. And would it matter if I did?
When all is said and done, what really matters anyway? Heartache, gender, marital status, a beings disposition or the fact I have some seeds to share and we are all sharing a planet together?
What I know for sure is we are currently under a winter storm alert and the snow has been falling for hours and will continue to fall for several more hours to come.
It’s time to throw my coat back on, shovel the deck and share some more nuts.
Because I have some.
And Stella likes them.
*The picture of the stellar jay at the top of this post is a stock photo and not an actual shot of Stella. Here’s a shot of our Stella in the feeder that I snapped a couple of minutes ago…
And now you know why I use stock photos!