This spring I decided to feed the birds peanuts. I put a big pile of nuts on our deck and they sat there unnoticed for days! When I thought about it, I realized I hadn't seen the birds that love peanuts (the Steller's Jays) for quite awhile and wondered if they'd been off on a winter vacation in Hawaii.
Then a couple of weeks ago we had the Craig's (our neighbors) over for lunch and my conversation with Shay went something like this:
Me in a rather confrontational tone (Shay knew I was playing with her), "Are you, by any chance, feeding MY birds?"
Shay, "Uh, which ones?"
Me, "The Steller's."
Shay, "Well, uh, yeah."
Me, "What are you feeding them?"
"About 8:00 in the morning."
"So that's where they are! They're going over to your house and filling up on your nuts and they're not coming here. Do you call 'em?"
"Yeah, I whistle, do you?"
"No I can't whistle, but I use a shrill, very high-pitched voice and say, 'Come on birdies!'"
"Yeah, we've heard you."
Once I found out that my birds were eating at the Craig's at 8:00, I started screaming out the door at 7:00, so they'd get my nuts first. (So much for living in the peaceful countryside.) I admit I'm a bird hog! But a little competition among neighbors is fun.
Now, every morning, when I open the sliding glass door to our deck and call, within a minute (sometimes 30 seconds) I hear the high-pitched call of the Steller's. There's a family of them that live in the old-growth cedar trees. They're bright blue and shaped like cardinals with that pointy top notch. They love peanuts and I buy them in a 30-pound bag at the feed store in Woodland. This morning a female came to have a peanut (it's usually just the males who've been coming to our deck) and she behaved like a typical woman shopping. She'd pick up a peanut and throw it down and pick up another one and toss it and re-pick up one that didn't make the cut the first time. She must have handled (or beaked) about four before she settled on one and flew off with it.
The males are just like a man shopping. They don't. They fly in pick up the nut and leave. I love these birds for so many reasons. For one thing they're so smart. I read that they can mimic the sound of other birds that are predators to some birds therefore scaring them away so the Steller's can get the seeds in bird feeders.
My call is meant just for the birds, but it seems others are listening. I've noticed lately there's a squirrel that's been responding to my 7:00 am revelry. I shouldn't be surprised that more than just the birds hear my call since the Craig's can hear me. I'm sure the squirrel doesn't think he's a bird as he seems very self-confident with his identity. I've wondered who's smarter, the birds or the squirrel. Just because the birds get there before the squirrel does could just mean flight is faster and climbing down a tree, running across the lawn and climbing up to the deck just takes longer. I don't mind feeding him, even though he makes a mess by leaving nuts shells on the deck where the birds fly off with the whole nut and make a mess somewhere else.
The trouble with wild animals is they won't go by my rules. They could care less that I have a weekly 3x5 card that says, "Clean Deck," or if I posted one out in my flower garden that says, "No Deer Allowed," or by my apple tree that says "Do not eat apples," or one on the west side of the house for the woodpecker that says, "Do not peck on house." Living in the country teaches us how far we can take our organizational systems and then we're just left to enjoy the show.
Enjoy your spring wherever you are!
News: Lettuce Bee Silly children's book is being discontinued and is now in my clearance store! Just $5 plus postage and handling.