April 14, 2014

A True Story: The Tale of the Blue Jay

We've got a bullying Blue Jay in our yard who thinks she runs the place.  She is a bully in every sense of the word.  With her magnificent, broad chest puffed out and a careless air of bravado, she plummets downward from the electrical wire above in one fatal swoop while letting out a brash call of ownership of the seed dish below, indifferent to the flock of speckled sparrows and red-chested finches already eating there--even landing on these far smaller birds and voraciously pecking them away.  All in one fantastic blur of electric-blue feathers.  This daredevil Blue Jay is even negligent towards the large coo-coo doves who fly off in a wild panic with a swift-yet-clumsy whistle of wings in the air upon her rough landing.  The seed dish, although rather large and the grain exceedingly plentiful, is in the Blue Jay's distorted eye, all hers.

A few short days ago while eating our nightly meal, we heard an unearthly, repetitive bird sound; a faltering-yet-consistent vocalization of despair--it was an eery sound that I, with my background of owning pet birds as a child, had ingrained in my mind and associated with the dreaded nail cutting time.  If you have never heard it before, this vocalized desperation sounds much like an animal losing a fight; an animal pinned down and bloodied in a brute manner--it is a last-ditch effort, this sound, at garnering sympathy from a much-larger foe, a fearful sound much like the innocent cry of a child when caught in a bind.  But unlike the simple, innocent cry of a child, this bird vocalization has a primordial undertone to it that I can only describe as the experience of being wild: of surviving in the elements and narrowly escaping predators, of being outwitted by a larger species and readily knowing it, but not ready to succumb to fate.

As we dashed to the northwest window overlooking the yard, my heightened sense of concern was validated: pinned to the floor by one foot, and on its back, helpless, was a speckled brown sparrow--and the aggressor was none other than our resident dictator, the Blue Jay.  What frightened me the most was that the Blue Jay had the sparrow in a tight full-body hold, with one gargantuan foot pinning the sparrow's delicate left foot onto the ground, while the other was pressed down firmly on the sparrow's feathery, tiny expanse of chest.  The worst part was the Blue Jay's thick elongated beak, which was pecking voraciously with intent at the little threatening foe's chest, like a Woodpecker pecking away at the bark of a tree; except that in this case, there was neither Woodpecker nor tree.  Witnessing this horrific potential end of life, I broke up the severely mismatched fight by strongly rapping at the window.

Off went the Blue Jay's legs, and off flew the sparrow.  Landing on the back of a plastic lawn chair, the sparrow stood still for a few minutes, likely gathering his bearings and calming his frayed nerves, and then fluffed out a bit as if shaking off the entire incident.  It was only then, after watching the sparrow fly off to join its flock, that I let out a flooding sigh of relief.  It flooded the room, seeped into the floorboards, exited the room and flooded the hallway.

No comments: