Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mexican Scrub Jays

This is a fun time of year for the Texas Hill Country. The live oaks don't actually stay evergreen, they shed their leaves and replenish them so quickly that most people don't notice the exchange--unless they have five acres of trees! The leaves make a wonderful mulch for the coming 105 degree summer temperatures, though. The wysteria is ready to bloom. In fact, it just might do so today. The bluebonnet leaves have sprouted and it's only a matter of days until these flowers explode across the state. I am excited to know that I will still be in Texas for wildflower season!

There are two beautiful blue birds that have made their appearance in our backyard every spring for the past three years. They usually disappear in November, then return in March. They arrived last week. I originally believed they were Mountain Bluebirds because I could only see their backs as they chased away the squirrels to eat the corn. Yesterday, however, I was able to get a close-up view of one of the birds and now know they are Mexican Scrub Jays.

I was talking on my cell phone to my husband as I walked through the back yard, my chihuahua and chocolate labs following behind me. I paused at the large tree of life in my backyard and suddenly realized there was a medium-sized blue bird with a grayish patch on its back and white chest with gray markings standing on a tree limb right next to my head. I looked at the bird and the bird cocked its head and looked back at me.

I continued talking to my husband. He asked if I wanted to hang up and get my camera, but I didn't want to do anything to spoil the moment, so I continued talking as I had been when the bird appeared. The bird hopped up and down the branch, watching me, cocking its head as if it was listening to our conversation. When I finally hung up the phone, the bird flew over to the bird seed cup that hangs over the fence next to the forest.

I ran back to my bedroom for my camera, then back outside. The bird was in the tree again. By this time the dogs had also seen the bird and they sat beneath the tree, staring up. This didn't phase the bird at all. I took a set of pictures, then the bird made a sound very much like a crow and flew into the forest. It didn't go far. In fact, it is sitting on the back picnic table as I write.

One of my friends wrote to tell me these birds are easily trained to sit on your finger, and he suspects that they can learn to imitate the human voice, like parrots, and possibly crows. I know its mate is nearby and suspect they might have a nest, which would be very exciting for the people who are taking over this glorious home as they also photograph birds, care for God's little creatures, and watch over the young ones. I am excited to show them the Scrub Jays. I think they will be great friends.

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