I spend many hours writing in my office, where I also look out at the trees and bushes and the astonishing number of birds that come to our three feeders. I can’t actually identify them all. But I am learning…slowly.
These three feeders are right outside the windows of my office and since my office is basically three-quarters windows I have a great view of nature every day.
My wife the Beautiful AP likes to go into the backyard and take pictures of the birds (and trees and bees and plants and bushes and butterflies) but yesterday was a different day. AP was busy going over some pictures she had taken earlier when I saw them at the feeders, two (what I think were) grackles, one black, the other gray.
The gray one stayed on the top bar of the feeder away from the other birds while the black one went to the grain in the feeders, shoving aside the sparrows, and put some feed in his beak and flew back to the gray one and fed her beak-to-beak. He did this over and over again. I called the Beautiful AP over to take a look and maybe get a picture of this.
I know that mother birds and often father birds will feed their chicks in their nests but these two birds were basically the same size so I assumed they were both adults and since males tend to be more colorful than female birds I made the assumption that the magnificent black bird was male and the somewhat less magnificent gray bird was female.
“I’ve never seen anything like this with two adult birds,” said AP attempting to take a picture through the window.
These two (lovebirds? mated birds? courting birds?) continued in this fashion for about fifteen minutes and then they both flew away.
“What do you think?” I asked AP.
“The only thing I know,” she replied, “is you can’t get a decent picture through a window.”
She hadn’t. Too bad. What the heck was actually going on? Was I right in some of my assumptions?
A while later I saw her tromping around the backyard with her sunhat on her head and the camera at her eyes. I wondered what she was photographing.
I found out when she came into the house about a half hour later.
“I got two blue jays at war,” she said. “They were really going after each other. First a cardinal attempted to scare off the first blue jay but the jay just lunged for the cardinal and the cardinal flew away really fast.”
“Blue jays are tough birds,” I said. “I can see they probably evolved from dinosaurs a few million years ago. They’ve got that attitude.”
“Well, the cardinal turned tail. Literally,” she said.
“Our lovebirds didn’t come back,” I said.
“No,” she said, “but then another blue jay came over and these two blue jays were not friends. They went at each other along the fence. I think I might have gotten a decent picture of them going at it. I would think those two were not lovebirds unless it was violent love. They’re aggressive.”
Yes, they are. I have heard and read many stories where blue jays have attacked people for getting too close to the nest – like about 30 feet! They are dangerous birds and when they come to the feeder most of the other birds get away, to a different feeder or altogether out of there.
I did see one blue jay get killed when a cat nailed him and scattered the blue jay’s feathers and guts under the bird feeders. Okay, I admit, blue jays can’t defeat cats.
I have been now watching birds in a somewhat serious manner for two years – more or less – and they fascinate me. First thing, they can fly! Give me my choice of a single superpower and flying would be it. I don’t need super strength because if someone were bothering I could – snap! – just up and fly away, just like that cardinal did.
So today I experienced two aspects of the bird world; love and warfare. Some relationships combine them. Just like Frank Sinatra sang, “Love and warfare; go together like a horse, carriage and carnage.” AP and I are thankful that our relationship is love minus the warfare, once I learned that in marriage one person is always right…and the other is the husband.
Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller and I Am a Card Counter. All of Frank’s books are available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores. Read Frank’s ongoing series about his teaching experiences in School Scobe.