When I am asked for suggestions for connecting with nature, I tell folks to feed the birds. Nothing breaks down the myth of separation from nature like hearing insistent tweets outside your window when the feeder is empty.
This is never truer than with blue jays. I once left a peanut on the rail of our back deck, hoping to attract a crow, the living manifestation of one of my helping spirits. The peanut disappeared, but I did not see who took it. For a few weeks I left a peanut daily and, for a few minutes, watched.
One day I caught sight of a blue jay swooping in and grabbing the peanut. I was excited! While not a crow, a blue jay is also a member of the corvid family. I continued putting peanuts out every day and watching from just inside the door. For the first week or so, the blue jay would sit on a branch in the tree that overhangs the deck and watch me watching him until I gave up and went about my day. Once I stopped looking, the peanut would disappear. Over time, the jay became less concerned about my presence and I would often see him fly to the deck rail and grab the peanut before he disappeared into a tree.
Eventually, the blue jay would come to the rail to watch me through the door. While I was trying to be consistent with the timing of my peanut offerings, there were days when I was distracted from my morning ritual by household goings on. The jay must have stayed close enough to keep an eye on the deck rail, because he never missed his treat. One morning, he was on the rail before I was back through the door. I said, “Good morning, blue jay.” He picked up his peanut and flew off.
After that, each time I left a peanut, I would look into the trees and say, in my best “yoga teacher projecting to the back of the room” voice, “Good morning, blue jay. Here’s your peanut.” He must have heard me, because he would arrive in an instant. My morning ritual expanded to include a greeting to my friend.
One of those distracted mornings, I became aware of the short, sharp “caw” of the blue jay and looked out to see him sitting in the tree watching the back door. I brought him his peanut. The next morning I was again reminded by the caw, and every morning after that he would be in the tree demanding his breakfast peanut. I felt as though me and the blue jay were friends.
This story will continue in tomorrow’s post.