Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One of the great loves of my life!

I've been in a 22 year love affair. Yep, I sure have. Who has captured my heart? Well, I'll give you a hint . . . he is wrapped in a bundle of the most beautiful feathers anyone can imagine. These feathers are soft, fluffy at times, and absolutely take your breath away. Are you familiar with the rose bush named "Peace". If you are then you know the color tones of my beautiful friend. If you don't, take a look at the photo. It's my beloved Fagan, a Moluccan Cockatoo posing with the "Peace" rose in my backyard.

I couldn't resist putting the two of them together and taking the picture to share. Although I have to admit my photographic abililty is not improving much because Fagan's beautiful peach-colored feathers look a bit washed out. What you see is the best I could do.

Fagan and I have been together since he was most likely 6-8 months old. Why the estimated age? Because he was captured in the wilds of Indonesia as a baby bird. The only thing about our relationship that saddens me is that he couldn't fulfill his destiny as he was intended. Back in the mid-80's the U.S. still allowed importation of wild caught birds. I was a novice and didn't realize the horrors the wild bird trade committed. So I happily supported the trade when I saw this absolutely gorgeous, sweet baby bird in my local bird store. It was love at first sight. It was later that I came to regret my participation in furthering the business of trapping of wild birds by purchasing him. But other than that, I have no regrets . . . not for myself, at least.

Living with Fagan has been wonderful. Getting to know him has been a fascinating adventure. But it hasn't been without challenges, frustrations and hard work. But even with that I'm so grateful to have had the experience and lessons he has taught me. I wish I could repay him somehow. But I can't -- I can't provide the natural life he should have had. All I can do is make the best life possible for him. Since he has thrived over the years, I suppose I've succeeded somewhat. He knows no other life and is content. He has someone who loves him and an Umbrella Cockatoo buddy. Owing to the fact that he is incredibly intelligent and extremely adaptable creature I think I can honestly say he is happy. For that I am very grateful.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Catepillars vs. Grape Jelly

One day last week I was in my backyard working madly away in a flower bed. It was in need of some general cleanup and removing dead growth left patches of bare ground. In the process of clearing away the vegetation I noticed a couple of caterpillars. Being the nature lover I am, I replaced them in the vegetation and went on with my work. After a time, our frequently visiting Western Scrub Jay appeared in the birch tree above me. She (at least I think it's a she) sat above me and seemed to be watching me work. Shortly, I discovered it wasn't me that she was interested in, but rather she'd spied one of the caterpillars who had crawled back out of the flowers. The jay patiently waited until I was ready to haul away the debris I'd accumulated. As soon as I was about 15 feet away the Jay swooped down and picked up the caterpillar. So much for my trying to "protect" the caterpillar!

Now here's the thing I'm confused about. The Jay didn't eat the caterpillar, but instead flew off with it. Now, that is certainly their habit with peanuts. They hide peanuts for later eating. But you can't cache a caterpillar so I assumed the Jay would have eaten the insect after catching it. But no, she definitely was taking it somewhere.

So, being springtime, I assume that her purpose of flying off with the caterpillar was to bring "baby food" to her nest. Seems reasonable. But then I wondered if this might be an immature Jay with the caching instinct even for bugs. I guess I really have to cast my vote for the "baby food" theory.

This Jay has done another interesting thing. It has developed a taste for the grape jelly we offer the orioles. Up until recently the Jay has come to the feeder and eaten the jelly. Now recently, I've witnessed her flying off with gobs of jelly in her beak. Is the caching instinct at work again? Or, is she taking grape jelly to feed young ones? Yikes, I hope not ... that doesn't sound like a good diet for growing nestlings. There is a little more protein in a caterpillar than grape jelly! Maybe I'd better go back out to the garden and dig around some more.