Training Scrub-Jays to trust you is time consuming work. I’ve been tossing peanuts to them from the doorway all winter. Now the couple waits and watches from their nearby home in the back shrubbery, and even if I pass the doorway, they come out to watch and wait.
I sat in the sun (!) for at least a half hour trying to lure them closer for a photo. They darted in and out so fast though, constantly looking over their shoulder, up to the sky, roofline, trees, and of course at me, hopping sideways in that alluring way, so that I had many blue blur pics. But I am a patient/stubborn woman and finally got my shot.
The crow, who also lives here, did not like this, and swooped down occasionally to scare them (or me?) away. Once he flew so close to the jay before it could tuck itself away that yes, I did scream a little. Sometimes the crows just pace around the yard, poking and pecking, acting like they own the place. Perhaps they do.
It’s been like this every year, jockeying for lord of the yard, the jay never letting up his guard, the crow never letting the jays quite take over. Both have been flying through the yard with twigs in their mouths recently, and I get to watch, anticipating an introduction to the next generation.
Last year I was banned from the yard for three whole days when the fledgling crow left his nest and landed in our garden, unable to fly yet. The parents watched the youngster from above, and every time I opened the sliding glass door to go out, the parents came swooping and screaming at me. I had no choice but to let them have the run of the place and watched from the window as junior tried out his wings and finally hopped up and out.
Though the jays are common, and perhaps mundane to some, I love the now familiar layers of blue, white, and grey, the way they constantly swivel and bob as they watch for danger, how they hop sideways, closer and further, how they swoop suddenly from high to low, or streak across the yard in an undulating pattern, how gracefully they land, how they perch in the magnolia above, or on the garden trellises, and how they talk to each other, and to me.
Yesterday I placed the peanuts on the arm of my chair as I sat, wondering if the jay would come that close. How he worried and hopped and made new sounds I hadn’t heard, and then brushed against my arm three different times. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to nudge me away, or he just missed the nut, but that brush was a thrill, though it made me jump a little. I might be messing with nature a bit too closely perhaps, but having a new friend is kind of cool.