The Impersonator

With the advent of the warm weather, Brock and I have taken to practically living on the porch. The house is surrounded by mature trees and shrubs, which provide food and shelter for numerous birds. And squirrels. Always squirrels.

We enjoy sitting with our beverages and watching the live Nat Geo production unfold around us. Several weeks ago, Tiger became interested in the drama, taking an unusual obsession with one corner of the deck where a small tree has wrestled its way through the concrete that surrounds the driveway. We noticed that a blue jay seemed to take special interest in the beast around the same time, often protesting the dog’s presence with loud squawks while practicing an aerial routine fit for the Blue Angels.

During one of these early episodes of bird vs. pit bull, I heard the unmistakable screech of a hawk from high up in a maple that towered above us. I scanned the branches, looking for the large bird that was sounding the warning.

“Look. There it is! It’s a blue jay!” exclaimed Brock, pointing to a much smaller bird than expected whose beak was indeed moving in concert with the avian screams.

I had to chuckle. When the warnings of the blue jay weren’t enough to frighten Tiger, the clever bird decided to impersonate a much larger hunter.

Tiger, being a confident sort of dog, was unimpressed.

But I was.

I had fallen for the ruse, believed that the cry came from a hawk on the hunt rather than its songbird cousin.

It led me to contemplate all of the impostors I have encountered in my own life, from my ex husband pretending to be loving to an innocent basement impersonating a dragon’s lair. I had fallen more than once for the mask, not looking to see what was really hidden in the depths.

Mimicry is ubiquitous in the animal kingdom.

And it’s important to remember that we are members of that kingdom as well.

Things are not always as seem.

Take the time to look. To listen.

Be more like Tiger who approached without assumptions and let his other senses connect the dots to conclude that there was no threat (not that he would find a hawk all that frightening either!).

And less like a human, leading with the ego of experience and expectations.

 

And I’m happy to report our little deck-side drama has a happy ending. A little searching that day revealed a nest buried down in the small tree next to the deck. Inside the nest were three newly hatched blue jays, blindly looking for their next meal. We trained Tiger to avoid the area for the next several weeks as we watched the young birds grow and eventually leave the safety of their nest.

And we haven’t heard the screech of the false hawk since; the need for the mask has past.

photo-20

 

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5 thoughts on “The Impersonator

  1. Reblogged this on 1000daysoflove and commented:
    I love this post about mimicry and seeing through things. I begin daily to see through Alfie and Nana. The hardest right now, is to see through myself. Who the heck am I? I am one person with Nana, another with my friends, another at work, another with Alfie, another with strangers. It would be normal if each of this one wasn’t so different from another. Worst of all, I don’t always like each of me.

  2. A bluejay visiting is cause for celebration in our yard, as bluejays were my mother’s favorite bird (along with hummingbirds) and I view them as messengers from her. I love the picture you painted of the jay becoming a hawk to protect her babies. – Fawn

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