Gray Jays… a.k.a. Camp-Robbers or Whiskey-Jacks, are a most intriguing species of bird.
For, while most birds are busy flying away from us evil humans, these guys are all about some people interaction. Whether they are born without the usual fear-of-humans gene that is present in most animals or they are just bad ass birds who don’t let anything come in between them and food… the fact that they land on my hand and eat from my palm makes them one of my most favorite animals of all time!
I first encountered this overwhelmingly adorable creature when I was hiking up the back of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. It was a lovely afternoon for escaping the craziness of ‘civilization’. I had been hiking for about an hour and a half… the trail was long and winding through the enchanting conifer and aspen forests of the Rockies. Happy that I hadn’t encountered any humans along my hike and slightly out of breath from the altitude, I stopped to rest a minute when I heard a bird calling my name. It was like, Psst… Pssssst! Hey, up here. Ya got any food? Actually, it was more like, Peep, peep… peeeep! But I’m fluent in bird, so I understood what it wanted. 🙂
I looked up, and sitting in a large spruce tree was the cutest bird I’d ever seen. And it was staring at me, like it was highly interested in what I might be able to give it. I’d never witnessed a bird in the wild, so far away from the city, seem so tame and curious. It was a pretty cool feeling, really. Usually, I sense the fear in a bird’s eyes when it sees me and I feel the need to apologize on behalf of my race for being so cruel and heartless to its kind.
I stared at it for a minute, giving it as much curiosity as it seemed to be giving me. Then, all of a sudden it dove down the the forest floor, not ten feet away from where I was standing. Hey cutie, what do you want? I asked, and it stared up at me with its big, twinkling black orbs of darlingness. It hopped closer, and tilted its head. Peep, peep…
Remembering that I had a bag of sunflower seeds in my backpack, I pulled them out and poured some in my palm. Holding out my hand, I offered the seeds to the fearless fella… not really expecting it to get much closer. Well, surprise! Not only did it come closer, it flew straight to my hand and started eating the seeds. Shocked and extremely delighted, I tried to stay as still as possible… This was too freakin cool!!! It stood there for a few seconds, then it flew up to a tree branch where I figured it was storing food for later. Because, soon after, it came straight back and landed on my shoulder, then hopped onto my hand and got more seeds. Taking the seeds in its mouth, it flew back to the branch again. It did this until all my seeds were gone, lol. Greedy bugger.
Needless to say, this bird sure made a huge impression on me. I mean, I’m out in the middle of nowhere and this wild animal comes to say hi, and takes food from my hand. When does that EVER happen in this reality? Usually, this type of thing only occurs in my imagination. 😀
Anyway, I love these guys. And hopefully, I can make it back to Colorado sometime soon. Such a beautiful part of the world that is. And feeding these babies will be the first thing on my list, once I return.
(All pics randomly selected from google)