By Alkali Springs Correspondent
Here it is already the first of November. Before we know it, this year will be over and we will be in 2001. We can't believe it went so fast and turned out so beautifulat least in the beautiful Bear Paws. After such a hot summer, it just seems like it rains and rains and rains. Why, even Bear Paw Lake is about to go over its spillway at this writing and springs are running that have not run all year long.
And it is gentle rains we see, not blizzards and drifts. If this is to be a more normal winter as some have predicted, it is going to snow and blizzard soon enough. For now though, it is great that when we go out to our tiny Beaver Creek cabin, we can at least have a fire in the fireplace without worrying about burning the whole forest to the ground.
We have been getting lots of birds lately at our feeders and even a dratted old raccoon. The raccoon actually comes to a ledge in front of our living room window and eats sunflower seeds we have put there for birds. Screaming at him from inside the window does not even faze him. Nor does shining bright lights on him. So we have moved our bird seed to high reaches where he cannot reach.
Some time ago a bird person told us that Havre has so many different birds than it did years ago because all over the west there are more folks feeding them. For example, suburbs are full of blue jays these days. That is a new bird in this neck of the woodsnew at least in the last ten or twenty years.
So imagine our surprise last Saturday when we looked out at our feeder and saw a large jay feeding there! We watched him all afternoon. Then he disappeared not to be seen since. We wrote an entry about him in our large bird book and found that the last time we had seen a jay in the Bear Paws was in 1996 in an apple tree at the Faber homeplace.
Anyway, we got to reading in our old bird book about this bird and find no where in the book where there is so much mentioned about any bird. We'd like to share some of it with you.
"The blue jay is the clown and scoffer of bird land. Furthermore, he is one of the handsomest of all American birds; also he is one of the wickedest, and therein, exemplifies the literal truth of the saying, Fine feathers don't make fine birds.' Many have been the attempts to write the jay down as a rascal, and not a few the efforts to rehabilitate and exculpate him. But after all has been seen by his defenders, the ugly fact remains as Mr. Job says, that the bird has all the mischievous, destructive, thieving traits of the crow, and with a lot of audacity or cheek thrown in for good measure.'"
"Yet even those who know and condemn the ways of jays are forced to admit that he is an amusing rascalthat the jay has a sense of humor - which is not common among our birds - also seems very obvious. Often it is humor of the grim kind, but not always, as will be appreciated by those who have read Baker's Blue Jay Story in Mark Twain's Tramp Abroad. Here we have a most amusing yarn about how a jay tried to fill up a deserted cabin with acorns; how he worked and swore as the nuts disappeared through the knot-hole in the roof; how one of the flocks of jays who had been attracted by his devotion' discovered what he had been trying to do, by looking in through the open door, and promptly had a spasm; how the other jays took a look one by one, with the same result, and how the whole flock then sat around in the trees and guffawed over the jokeall of this is not merely amusing; it is good ornithology in so far as it reports the way a jay acts."
"James Whitcomb Riley also sketched him accurately when he said (in Knee Deep in June), Mr. Blue Jay, full o' sass/In them baseball clothes of his,/Sporting around the orchard jes'/Like he owned the premises.'"
We don't know about you, but we are going to be watching more closely for jays just to see if this is all true!