Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The patient Blue Jay...

Blue Jays frequenting our backyard feeders are generally pretty skittish toward me, especially when I’m trying to photograph them, or so that’s been my prejudice about it. I have so few pictures of them and yet they’re one of the most photographed birds in North America. Naturally, when I’m doing yard work or something keeping my attention from them, they seem less concerned about my presence...almost as if they posses a keen instinct regarding my intentions. Of course, believing they actually know I'm trying to get a picture of them is completely absurd.

(click on image for larger version)

A few days ago I was outside with my digiscoping gear near our patio, attempting to image Red-breasted Nuthatches, when I noticed a lone Blue Jay hopping around the branches of our spruce trees. I knew it wanted to come down to the platform feeder for peanut halves, but I thought to hold my ground a bit longer.

I captured the above shot through maple branches from about 20 yards, admittedly much further away than I normally like to be when digiscoping songbirds. I decided to check my focus on this image, so I zoomed it up on my CP995’s LCD screen. Once I saw its eager expression (as interpreted by me) I became obligated to abandon my effort and allowed the jay to have its way at the feeder.

"The Jay" by Emily Dickinson

No brigadier throughout the year
So civic as the Jay.
A neighbor and a warrior too,
With shrill felicity

Pursuing winds that censure us
A February day,
The brother of the universe
Was never blown away.

The snow and he are intimate;
I’ve often seen them play
When heaven looked upon us all
With such severity,

I felt apology were due
To an insulted sky,
Whose pompous frown was nutriment
To their temerity.

The pillow of this daring head
Is pungent evergreens;
His larder - terse and militant -
Unknown, refreshing things;

His character a tonic,
His future a dispute;
Unfair an immortality
That leaves this neighbor out.

Blue Jay image © 2005 Michael McDowell

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