It’s winter here, and our neighborhood critters have shifted. The seagulls and other summer birds left weeks ago. The moose have started to graze in our yards. The ravens have come down from the foothills into the city. Our neighborhood isn’t popular with ravens, but I love to watch them fly by, commuting to the business district to hang out on streetlights and rooftops looking for an easy meal. Here in our backyard, we’re still seeing black-capped chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches, and the red squirrel is still here. But the Steller’s jays and black-billed magpies are back for the winter.
Both jays and magpies are corvids, like the ravens. They’re my favorite kind of bird because they’re a bit scrappy, and smart. Sometimes I’m not sure who is manipulating whom, the humans or the birds. For example, my husband has “trained” a Steller’s jay to peck at the kitchen window. Every time he (or she?) does, my husband or I rush out to the deck to pour out a little dried corn for the jay. My conservation-minded husband who worked in Denali National Park for seven seasons saying, “Don’t feed the animals” doesn’t seem to understand why this is so funny to me. But I am not going to tease him too much, because I love seeing that beautiful bird with his black head and vivid blue body. If it gives me more face time with the jay, I am not going to complain.