Sebastian and Sammy
A few years ago we met two spectacular California Scrub Jays at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo, California. When I say we met them, it was because we truly met them, or maybe they met us. It’s not normal to name wild birds but these two had so much personality, it almost seemed natural to give them names – Sebastian and Sammy. Both sexes look the same so it was difficult to determine if they were male or female. We were, however, able to tell them apart. You may see the differences yourself in these photos. To make things easy, we assumed that these were both males.
The first to introduce himself was Sebastian. We were walking quietly along the trail when this beautiful blue California Scrub Jay jumped out from the trees onto a low hanging branch right in front of us and allowed us to photograph him. Shortly after, he jumped to the ground, foraged around, and then took off. Usually birds are startled when they inadvertently run into humans and quickly fly away. Not Sebastian. He was not shy at all. We 'oooed and ahhhed' about how gorgeous he was and how wonderful it was that he was so close and allowed us to take so many photos.
Sebastian hung around in the area for a while so we sat on a nearby bench to enjoy his company. Not much time passed when another jay flew in. He too perched rather low and we snapped some photos. His name--Sammy. Sebastian and Sammy came close to us at times, came and went (but never too far), perched low and then high. We stayed to watch their behavior.
We heard a small group of people in the distance. As they got closer we heard them stop to 'ooooo and ahhhh' about this seemingly tame blue bird. One guy took out his cell phone to snap a few photos. They couldn’t believe how close this bird was to them. That was Sebastian showing off again. As they continued on the trail they spotted Sammy and 'ooooed and ahhhed' about him too.
Sebastian and Sammy did this over and over and over again. Some people stopped and took photos, some only commented about how beautiful they were, some wanted to give them snacks. The more people who came by, the more we realized that these two birds did the same thing to everyone walking in their
territory. Sebastian would fly out low and pose for photos, and Sammy would appear a little farther down the trail. Was this a game they were playing? A way to tease humans? Maybe it was a ploy to get some food. Perhaps they liked human interaction and wanted to be close. Maybe humans had fed them so many times before. Maybe they just enjoyed the compliments or just wanted to pose for some photos. Perhaps Sebastian and Sammy were in competition. Whatever the reason, it was fun to watch them. They knew exactly what to do when they heard people coming down the trail.
We returned the next day to watch this behavior again. And it was the same as the day before. And it was fascinating all over again.
Sometimes all it takes is stopping for a while to watch, listen and learn. It might be in that moment that you find joy in birds.