Saturday, August 27, 2005

My Brother and the Western Scrub Jays

I can't believe that almost a month has passed since my last log note. It wasn't my intention, but rather due to the unexpected death of my brother under tragic circumstances. Needless to say, it has been a very sad and heartbreaking time for me. His death rendered a hole in my heart that will never completely heal. He was my only sibling and we were very close. My notes in this log were always planned to bring positive and happy circumstances to anyone who happened by to read them. So mentioning this event is to explain my unplanned delay in writing about the one area of my life that consistently brings joy . . . my pet birds and feeding those in the wild. It is also offered as a small remembrance for my brother.

Although I've cared for pet birds for more than 20 years, it was my brother who first showed me the pleasure of feeding wild birds. I was instantly captured by the frantic activity of his Western Scrub Jays that we have here in California. It was during a visit to my brother's home that I discovered how much pleasure a
simple hanging platform bird feeder can add to a bird feeding program. Actually, it was due to watching my brother add peanuts in the shell for his Blue Jay visitors that instilled the dedication I now have to feeding backyard birds. Thanks to you always, Brandon.

He'd pile the peanuts high in a swinging platform feeder and the Jays would come. Well, to tell the truth, he would wait until he saw a Jay nearby (they were always about) to fill the tray. The bird activity at the feeder was instant and so much fun. The Jays select the best peanut they can find on each visit. And they sure are selective or so it would seem. I've watched them pick up peanut after peanut until they find the right one. Then off they fly with it. One peanut at a time. Do they eat the peanuts? Nope! They hide them for a future meal. So they come to the feeder to steal away the next peanut until they are all gone. I'm sure that if I could put a 50# sack of peanuts on a platform feeder they would not rest until all the peanuts were safely hidden away.

When I got my own hanging platform feeder the Jays came immediately. I watched the first one take a peanut and fly right down to the backyard lawn. Later I checked the spot . . . sure enough, the Jay had hidden away the peanut deep down in the grass. Having a platform feeder turns into quite an adventure if you have Jays around. When I began feeding them there was only one. Now the number has grown to four or five. Four of the five seem to come and go. But one is always around. I believe he may be a baby born this past spring. He watches the Orioles and has decided the grape jelly I feed them is perfect for him, too. I don't know if anyone else has Jays eating grape jelly, but I expect so since Jays are very ominvorous.

I don't expect a day to pass by without loving thoughts of my brother. I'll continue to miss him terribly . . . and especially so when I offer peanuts to the Jays. Brandon, is dedicated to your memory.


John said...

This was a beautiful post on a sad subject. If you are willing, I would like to include a link to it (or the post following it) in the next I and the Bird, which will be posted on my blog on Thursday. If you are interested, drop me a line at empidonax AT by Tuesday August 30.

Kim said...

Shari, this was a lovely post. I am currently researching blogs on birds - and specifically pet birds / bird keeping - for a newspaper article I am writing here in the UK.

I would very much like to quote some of your blog - and to list your blog address as part of the piece, with your permission, of course.

I would also like to ask you a few, simple questions. If you're interested, I'd love to hear from you. My email address is:

Kim_Forrester AT

Anonymous said...

Cool site, nice pics!
zabawki said...

I was shocked at the speed with which I could train a wild scrub jay to eat out of my hand. Now, I have a real thrill when I am in my yard, see him up on a hill side, and come soaring down to my hand to take the peanuts. I also break them into small pieces and he rests on my hand while eating or storing them in his bill, looks up at me when they are gone as if to say "is that all" and flys away.

I am restricting how much I give him because I want to be sure he can forage independently.