Mocking Jays

Cutesy chirpy songbird female

I really like bluejays. They’re smart (being in the crow family), brash, demanding little buggers who aren’t shy about letting you know they want something.

One of the little joys I take in my small apartment is that I’ve befriended two families of bluejays. It’s easy to do when you have peanuts. I got them used to picking them up from the rail outside my front door. Pretty soon they started landing and demanding peanuts.

One of the jays is an alpha male who just yells till he gets his peanut. The other is a smaller, scruffy-looking female who does a cutesy chirpy songbird schtick till I notice and bring her a peanut. It was cute till they started doing it at 7 a.m.

Belligerent alpha male staring through the kitchen window

Because they’re smart, they learned pretty quickly that no amount of yelling or coaxing was gonna get them a peanut at that time of day, as I generally stay up late and get up at the crack of 11 or so. They adjusted their begging schedules accordingly.

Pretty soon it got to where they’d take peanuts from my hand, or land beside me when I was reading in the courtyard. I got worried because I don’t want them dependent on me and I don’t want them to be too trusting of people. One day one of them landed on the rail behind a UPS guy when he was making a delivery.

Then one of the jays  figured out that the guy he saw through the small kitchen window of my apartment is the same guy who leaves peanuts out front, and he started landing on my air conditioner and banging on my window. I think he was trying to get an exclusive on the peanuts. He’d start at sunrise and go at it 10 or 20 times over the course of the day. We’re not talking tap-tap-tap here. We’re talking BAM BAM BAM, Open up in the name of the law.

My unsolicited alarm clock

At first I tried opening the blinds so he could watch me go to the front door, which could be seen from the kitchen window. I’d hold up a peanut and open the door and try to get the jay to realize that there was now a peanut out front, so stop banging on my damn window. No go. He wanted his peanut, he wanted it directly from the kitchen window (it doesn’t open because of the air conditioner), and he wanted it now.

That was when I realized that the jays had trained me.

So now I’ve set out on a campaign to unspoil my slowly domesticating bluejays before the little bastards have me renting DVDs from Redbox for them, and before I become the avian equivalent of a crazy cat lady. I’ve got them to stop with the window-banging, but seeing as how both of them showed up for peanuts while I was writing this, I clearly have a ways to go.

Of course, it’s me who needs retraining. But everybody knows that.

2 Replies to “Mocking Jays”

    1. I don’t want them to go away! The pathetic truth is that they are often the highlight of my day. We’ve reached a detente. They’ve stopped banging on the window; they land on my rail and sing, and I bring them peanuts just like before.

      Only now, the alpha male will take a peanut from me and drop it and screech for one he likes better. I though he was being a spoiled jerk until I noticed that the ones he drops smell icky. Still — I think it possible he wants me to make him a ham sandwich.

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