Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Jay Bird Service April 21, 2015

stellers jay mid-flight

I am allergic to bee and wasp stings, so when I realized that wasps were building a large nest beneath the porch roof right above my front door, I naturally felt concerned. Every time the door opened, there was a high chance that a wasp would fly in – and then I would have to deal with it. I lived alone and was new to this community, so didn’t yet have any brave helpers to call upon to remove any interloping hymenoptera, let alone the whole dangerous nest.

When a wasp came into the cottage, I felt both scared and relieved to have noticed it before I inadvertently touched or grabbed it along with whatever it was sitting on. I would carefully capture the beastie against a windowpane with a drinking glass and a piece of paper, take it outside, and release it in a nearby wild field. But that nest? That was beyond me. If I messed with their nest in this warm weather season when wasps don’t sleep that deeply, there’s no way I could’ve gotten out of being stung. So I was stuck, and the nest’s presence there felt like a time bomb.

One day, something amazing happened.

I was inside, thinking about this dilemma – what to do; how long it would be before I wind up taking a trip to the ER; whether or not I should compromise my deeply held ethics by just using some bug killing spray like most Americans would without batting an eyelash.

At that moment, I heard a giant clanging sound outside. Clang, clang! Bang! What on earth was going on out there? I looked out the window, and noticed my porch wind chimes swinging wildly – but there was no wind. I went to the door for a closer look.

As I watched, I saw the source. A Steller’s Jay was swooping down under my porch roof, repeatedly, his wings hitting the wind chimes as he swooped and dived. Why was this happening? I went closer yet to investigate.

What happened next, I would never have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes. That jaybird swooped down one more time, then hovered, fluttering, beneath my porch roof, and snapped off the entire wasp nest with his beak. He then flew off with it to that same field where I had been releasing each individual wasp and threw the nest down in the grass over there.

I don’t know why he did that. Perhaps it was in order to eat the larvae later. But why go to the trouble of moving the nest for that, thereby riling up the entire swarm of adult wasps?

All I know is that this bird’s act served as an incredible kindness to me. He took the wasp nest far enough away where it would do me no harm. In one clean swoop, my worries were over for another full year.

A month or so, some afternoon guests (humans) and I were sitting together in lawn chairs in the back. They were admiring the many birds who came to my feeders and small open water source. But when a jay came among the songbirds, they expressed disapproval. “Jays are such nasty birds,” one opined. “Always thieving, and their voices are so loud and unpleasant. I wouldn’t let them feed here. If I were you, I’d chase them away.”  I just laughed and told them I saw things a bit differently from that. Those jays can have anything they want from me, forever.

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Notes:

I have no idea about this bird’s gender, but decided to go with the pronoun “he” in this story to offer a bit of concessional balance to its main point of view that bucks current societal norms.

I enjoyed writing this love letter to a member of the avian family Corvidae, which includes crows, ravens, jackdaws, magpies and others along with jays. Thanks to my students in Transpersonal Service Learning at Naropa University for inspiring me to finally write it down by sharing their own wonderful stories of awakening through bird encounters.

Photo credit: Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) photographed mid-flight, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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Animal Aid: Rare Encounters on the Web January 11, 2011

There are many old tales of animals helping humans in marine settings — dolphins aiding swimmers off the coast of Greece, and seals herding schools of fish toward boats in the small islands of the British Isles.

Here follow two recent heartwarming tales of interspecies aid and kindness going the other way.

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Tale the First –

In which a Number of Buck Deer Hitch a Boat Ride with Alaska Quest Charters, and are Not Even Charged Passage.

Four young black-tailed bucks swimming in Taku Inlet last October got in trouble when the winds came up, whipping the waves high and making the water freezing cold. As they shivered and lost energy and the threat of drowning from exhaustion and hypothermia became a real possibility, along came Tom Satre’s charter vessel. Uncharacteristically, these wild animals made straight for it.

According to the Juneau Empire, “This was the first time [Satre had] ever seen deer in this much distress. They were foaming at the mouth, and not able to make it onto the swim step, they instead swam under it. The group knew something had to be done.”

So they did what they would have done for a person: they helped the four young bucks aboard and warmed them up.

To get their chilled blood running again, the humans gave them massages!

Once the vessel landed, since the bucks were still too chilled to walk, the people carried them in wheelbarrows to safety on shore, waiting until they could stand and make it into the woods on their own.

How beautiful that these deers’ need was met in such a caring way!

You can read the full story and see a lot more pictures on Alaska Quest Charters’ website.

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Tale the Second –

Whale Thank-You Kisses After Help

 

 

In December 2005, a 50-foot female humpback whale was likely enjoying another day of swimming along the usual migratory route, when she got tangled up in a knot of nylon ropes that link crab pots together.

A crab fisherman spotted her. Soon the captain of the whale watching/shark diving vessel New Superfish and other volunteers from the Marine Mammal Center were on their way.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the situation was like this:

[The diver] Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale’s mouth. The crab pot lines were cinched so tight, Moskito said, that the rope was digging into the animal’s blubber and leaving visible cuts.

At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow- hole out of the water.”

Evaluating the situation, they realized the only way to save the whale would be to dive into the water with her and cut the ropes.This would be a very risky maneuver, because a single flip of the humpback’s massive tail could kill a person.

Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration.

“When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me,” Moskito said. “It was an epic moment of my life.”

When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.

“It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you,” Moskito said. “I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.”

After describing his experience, it seems as though Menigoz may have suddenly worried what folks enmeshed in the industrial growth paradigm, where only humans get to claim consciousness, would think. Or perhaps the experts or reporters gave him the hairy eyeball.

Whale experts say it’s nice to think that the whale was thanking its rescuers, but nobody really knows what was on its mind.

But he still stood by the power of the encounter:

“You hate to anthropomorphize too much, but the whale was doing little dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with it,” Menigoz said. “I don’t know for sure what it was thinking, but it’s something that I will always remember. It was just too cool.”

According to the Marine Mammal Center, this was the first time an entangled humpback was successfully freed on the West Coast.

The moving photo that has so often been paired with it is just as real, but according to Snopes.com (the best urban-legend debunking site ever), it shows an encounter that took place nearly four years later, between another (?) 50-foot female humpback and photographer Marco Queral in the South Pacific. Both photos here in this post show the two of them.

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May we continue to hear of many more such episodes of interspecies aid and kindness — going both ways.