Notions.....

.... earlier today I photographed a Northern Flicker as it vied with a blue jay for some doomed insect beneath the purple blossoms of my tea cup magnolia..... it was a large bird and caught my attention because of its size..... my lawn is seldom visited by avian visitors that are larger than a blue jay, so it was a bit conspicuous.....

.... I snapped a few photographs as he flitted about, but didn't really get any good ones....... still though, here he is....

flicker_small.jpg

.... quite a pretty bird, really...... and if you happened to dig into that wikipedia article that I linked above, they are evidently known as 'Yellowhammers" down in Alabama..... what an excellent name.... "The Yellowhammer".... the Alabama state bird...... Confederate troops from Alabama were known as Yellowhammers as well...... pretty interesting......

... it was good to see another bird sit on the ground and intimidate an evil blue jay, though...... the jays around here have been mortal terrors to most of other songbirds this spring...... every spring, in truth....... but wow, trust it to be a humble woodpecker that could finally cow a blue jay.......

.... I've always thought that blue jays are just plain evil....... they are tormenters and thieves...... and while they may be quite fetching in their blue and white suits, their screeching calls are enough to send chills up the backs of the most fortitudinous of animal husbanders.....

.... my Grandfather once spent a long winter & springtime staying with my family when I was a teenager...... my Mother had endured a fairly severe back surgery in the autumn, and dear ole Grandpa volunteered to stay with us and look after her while she healed.... so while Dad was away at work & my brother and I were away at school, Grandpa puttered around the house, did the dishes, planted a garden, and looked after his eldest daughter.......

..... I remember arriving home from school on spring afternoon and having him take me by the elbow and escort me outside....

.... "boy", says he, "I have a mission for you."

.... intrigued (and slightly scared), I asked him what he required of me.... (you always did what Grandpa said..)

..... "Them damn blue jays", he began.... "they're eating the hell out of my strawberries.... and they've run off with each and every cherry that your Dad's cherry tree produced this year...... you've still got that old Hopkins & Allen shotgun that I gave you when you turned 10, don't you?"....

... "yes, sir..."

.... "good.... because you are going to need it..... go and fetch that shotgun, Eric....... and for every blue jay that you bring me this spring, I will give you a dollar.... "

.... I nodded knowingly and went off to fetch it....... two months and three boxes of shells later, and I had managed to cull 28 blue jays from our 1.5 acre back yard in the hours between schools-out and bedtime.....

..... looking back now, a dollar was a lot of money for a 12 year old back in 1984..... and now that I think of it, hell, a dollar is still a lot of money to me now in 2008..... but I'll never forget that spring.... and just how happily Grandpa parted with his money each time I showed up holding a mangled blue jay by their cold, scaly, little black feet....

.... it must be genetics, I guess...... since I have completely inherited his hatred of blue jays....... then again, after having watched them mob a mama-bird and father-bird, drive them from their nest, and then eat their struggling fledgling alive on the wing, perhaps a hatred of jays is a learned behavior....... and not genetic after all...... I just don't know.....

.... but it is an interesting idea, I suppose - where we choose to draw the line.... that line where we, as human beings, deem something vile simply because it harshes our mellow, or drives away our joy.... where we imagine that a beast is imbued with the same characteristics as we....... we have a power that we must be very careful with.....

...... "It destroys that which I enjoy... therefore it must go." ...... "It is a bully!"..... "It preys upon the weak... and the weak are to be nurtured and made well."..... it is an interesting paradox......

..... often we look at the world that surrounds us, and we sometimes interject morals of our own which are not shared by our animal cousins..... and that is a scary, scary thing...... but it is an incredibly easy thing.....

.... it is all too alluring to get caught up when watching birds, bees, and deer....... and then to measure their predators with our own internal yardsticks of morality....

.... but in reality, there is no malice in the actions of a crow, blue jay, coyote, or wolf...... they are just filling their niche.......

..... but I'm still going to hunt coyotes...... but not out of some internal moral juxtaposition....... I am going to hunt them because I like it....... the bunnies be damned.......

by Eric on April 03, 2008 | Bullshit (7) | TrackBack (0) | Thinking
Bullshit So Far

You should have shot and ate the son of a bitch based only on the fact that it is the Alabama State Bird. I mean, have you driven through Birmingham lately?

Shit.....I shot a god damn Starling with my Benjamin .177 once. Breasted that bastard, boiled it in a Maxwell House coffee can and ate it. Just because......well it was a bet and I needed beer money that weekend.

But still, it would make a a fine compliment to the works of good ole Grand Papa.

Blast that fucker. Consume his spirit. Even if for nothing more than the bastard has refuge in Alabama.

Bullshitted by bitterman on April 3, 2008 08:10 PM

and just how happily Grandpa parted with his money each time I showed up holding a mangled blue jay by their cold, scaly, little black feet....

Made me laugh in an evil way. heh.

Excellent writing.

Does not the Good Book say, "go to the ant, thou sluggard," as though perhaps we are to learn lessons from the beasties?
:O)

Bullshitted by Joan o f Argghh! on April 3, 2008 08:39 PM

Bunnies? Excellent for wiping your ass with...if you're a bear.

Bullshitted by Elisson on April 3, 2008 10:26 PM

Dear Dances with Wolves...

When I was workin' tobacca, we'd have to put it in the barns to cure. When a barn got emptied, we'd go back to it at night. Open the barn door a little bit and look up in the rafters for those "YellowHammers". If we saw one up there, one of us would hold the flash light, and the other would start up the tier poles. When we got to the top, we'd grab that fucker and bring it back down where we'd wack it's heat on a tear pole or a Pepsi bottle, whichever was closest, and render it useless. Can't say I've ever ate one, but they are fun to catch at night when you're bored as shit on a farm. The biggest fear back in those days... Grabbin' a Chickenhawk instead of a Yellowhammer... You can't come down outta the top of that barn fast enough when you piss off one of those Chickenhawsks... I don't care if you jump down.


Bullshitted by RedNeck on April 3, 2008 11:18 PM

Speakin' of coyotes - I have been seeing quite a few of them lately out the window of my office. There is a water retention area, that covers a good couple acres, and they run through there every now and then. Too bad it is within city limits so can't shoot them. But we get them alot around the mountains here in town and undeveloped areas between subdivisions.

Bullshitted by Ralphd00d on April 4, 2008 11:30 AM

You can cull out the coyotes but it's possible that the armadillos are on the way. Started out that way here. First coyotes then came the armadillos. From my observations on the highways and byways they will soon over take possums as the predominate roadkill in these parts. Maybe the Mexicans will keep'em thinned out as they find'em tasty. UGH!!!
Which reminds me.
YOUR OUTDOORSMAN TIP OF THE DAY:
Should you get lost in the woods, find a possum and follow it. Because 99 times out of 100, it'll be on it's way to a highway to commit suicide.

Bullshitted by Tbird on April 4, 2008 01:11 PM

Eric,
I thought you were trying to start the Civil War Part II, when I read the words Northern Fucker. But then I realized that I just need to use my bi-focals when blogging.

Bullshitted by Jerry on April 4, 2008 09:33 PM