Backyard Critters

There is a blue jay who frequents my yard. I watch him whenever I hit a pause in my day that allows me to spend a few minutes outdoors. He hops about, tapping his beak against things and peeking into all the holes he can find. I don’t feel bad about watching him, because he watches me too. He flaps from perch to perch, cocking his head to get a better look at the strange human who swings in a hammock from the trees. If our cat, Kikaa, makes an appearance, then the jay will talk to her. Sometimes Kikaa talks back and they have a strange half cry, half meowl conversation. After awhile the jay will fly away to take care of things elsewhere. I sway gently and close my eyes.

Our yard is also home to a garter snake. This is a new and exciting development of which I was informed this afternoon when I got home from grocery shopping. All the kids held the snake before letting it go. I never got to see it, but it is out there somewhere, catching small critters and generally living a snakey life. I told the kids that we’re glad to have a little snake in our yard, as they eat pests. So next time we see him, we can say hello and give him a name, but we probably shouldn’t pick him up. If he’s picked up too often he’ll likely decide to go live elsewhere. Also, I don’t really want my children in the habit of picking up snakes, but I didn’t say that part out loud.

There are nests in our spruce tree. I’ve no idea how many because the tree is too dense for me to see. I hear them though, little twittering sounds that change in volume depending upon if an adult bird has just showed up with dinner. I think they are mostly starling nests. The robins seem to prefer more open trees like the honey locusts. One year we had a little hummingbird nest in our apricot tree, but I’ve not seen any hummingbirds this year.

The apricots are ready to pick, I need to get out with a ladder and a bucket. If I don’t hurry the birds will taste all the fruit first. The grape vines are busy making a September harvest. Then I’ll have to maneuver around the bees and wasps who’ve discovered the split grapes. The walnut tree is heavy with forming nuts. At some point in the future a very happy squirrel is going to discover that tree and we’ll get far fewer of the nuts. Right now we only have to share with the occasional northern flicker. And the blue jay. He likes the nuts and often pokes around on the ground hoping to find one that was missed last fall.

I love the variety of creatures who have decided that sharing space with humans is just fine.