The wild cherry tree outside the dining room window seemed a favourite spot for blue jays. The tree had no visible fruit or seed, but every day after sunrise, a dozen jays would swoop in from perches hundreds of feet away.
Many mornings the tea got cold while I watched them.
Just before Christmas, Rick came back from a shopping trip with a humongous bag of birdseed.
“The birds up here have been doing fine without us all this time. We don’t need to feed them,” I sniffed, a bit imperiously. “And they’re jays. They scare away other birds. Or worse.”
“You like to watch them,“ he replied evenly, with the sack still on his shoulder. It was nicer than a dozen roses.
So the feeder is now in the cherry tree. And one of us is generally out there before breakfast.
The cats think it is ridiculous.
But as long as we feed them first, they don’t make too much noise.
Recently I woke up before sunrise and had snuggled in the comfy chair engrossed in our book club novel as the day dawned.
I looked up to see half a dozen birds in the tree.
Several of them were moving strangely. Kind of a rocking, bouncing up and down motion.
“Hmmm. Must be a mating dance or something, Got to look that up.”
It had been a cold night.
“I should probably fill that feeder,” I said to no one in particular. But the cats heard me.
So there I was at sunrise. In my Sorels and my housecoat with a yogourt container full of birdseed standing about 100 feet from the tree.
That’s when I realized it.
That was no mating dance. That’s the movement they make for a certain call. They were telling me (and the other birds) that the feeder was empty. No one has lived on this land for 40 years. These birds figured out humans in a couple of weeks.
When they hear a noise they scatter and perch in surrounding trees. I talk to them while I fill the feeder. I am trying to get them used to my voice.
This morning I was out there in my housecoat again. I dropped the seed on the feeder plate and stood 20 feet away. Two brave birds went straight to the feeder. Four more perched in the tree and made another call which must be blue jay for SCORE!
I worry that the jays will scare away the blue birds we had last year. And I am looking forward to seeing other birds return to the South Road this spring. But these jays have been amusing companions. In fact, they are in the tree as I write this.
We will be setting up our ducks and chickens soon. They have to be fed early too.
But I have made a promise to myself.
I will never feed chickens in my housecoat.