My best friend's son, who's 12, has been coming to visit a couple of times a week. My friend is homeschooling him while also trying to run her marketing business, so I offered to supervise homework times and grade papers for her. I like Jake. He's a bright, sweet boy and, since I didn't have any boys but raised a daughter and stepdaughter, he's a fun new experience.
Last week, when his homework was done, we went out and built a snowman together. Then we had a snowball fight, which ended in a draw, and with me finding a big wad of melting snow in my coat pocket along with my cell phone after we went inside. The cell phone survived.
Just before Jake arrived this morning I put a pan of chicken scratch out for the birds, since we still have a thick blanket of snow. While they're quite capable of finding their own food, I love watching them.
So Jake got here and we settled down in the living room near the woodstove, where it's warm. The living room is also where the slider is, and right outside on the snow was my makeshift bird feeder, an old cookie sheet with the cracked corn and other small seeds spread in it. We talked for a while about the different kinds of birds that were dropping in for a snack -- juncos, sparrows, a couple varieties of towhees. Then, with the "new" worn off, he got started on his language homework. I plopped myself in my favorite chair and turned on my laptop, figuring I'd work on the freelance magazine article I'd contracted.
"Hey! What kind of bird is that?" Jake asked. His eyes were huge. "Wow, he's BIG!" I twisted around and looked.
"That's a Stellar's jay! Oh, man ... I've been wanting to get a photo of one those for the longest time!" I ran for my camera.
By the time I came back the jay was gone, of course. But he'd found the tray of seed, so I knew he'd come back. I hovered for a while, then Jake said, "Why don't you let me take the picture? I'm looking right at the window! I can do it!"
So I showed him how to operate the camera and left it with him. Now, this isn't the best way to get a flighty 12-year-old to concentrate on compound words and sentence structure, but he calls me "Aunt Wren" so concessions must be made.
Anyway, a few minutes later, the jay was back. And this time, Jake was ready. The bird flew before he could snap it at the feeder, but it landed in the branches right above the patio. Jake aimed, focused and shot. "Got it!" he yelled.
And indeed he did. The top photo is the one he took, the first photo of a Stellar's jay ever taken at the Wren's Nest. The photo below is one I managed to get about an hour later. My day -- nay, my MONTH -- is complete.