Pine Nuts: A most charming bird |

Pine Nuts: A most charming bird


There’s more to a Steller’s Jay than we know. My pet Jay, Huckleberry, has demonstrated over the past two days, two distinct emotions I didn’t know he, or any bird, had.

First a little background, Huck was born in the summer of 2017 on my lower deck. I could see from the top deck that he was getting ready to fledge, so I spread a sleeping bag on the driveway below to soften his landing. He hit it squarely and looked up to me as if to say thanks, while his sisters took it on the chin. We’ve been pals ever since.

Huckleberry stops by three times a day, seven for breakfast, noon for lunch, and five for Happy Hour, when he is awarded with a peeled and washed Beer Nut, and flies away, happy.

But Huckleberry has stupefied and amazed me over the past couple days with a demonstration of personality traits I didn’t think were possible in a bird.

The first was charming, disarming and amusing. As I was walking down the drive on my way to the Rec. Center, Huckleberry positioned himself on a tree branch a little ahead of me at eye level, and as I passed by and looked at him he flapped his wings as if to say hi. It made me smile, and I had to laugh outright. I said to him, “You are such a nut, Huckleberry.” And of course I had to wave back.

But the emotion he displayed yesterday beat anything I ever saw. Having arrived way too early for Happy Hour, I ignored him. He pecked on the window and I continued to ignore him.

He flew up onto the screen door, anchored himself there, and flapped his wings. He flew onto the flagstaff and waved the American flag. Still I managed to ignore him, until finally, he flew away. But wait! At curtain time, 8 p.m., here he comes again. So I whistled his favorite song, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and placed a Beer Nut out on the rail.

Well, the most amazing of things happened. Huckleberry cocked his head to one side and up and over, so I could not see his eyes, and totally ignored me, as if to say, “Hey, if you’re going to ignore me, I’m going to ignore you, and you can pound sand.” He stood there as motionless as Mt Rushmore for a full thirty seconds while I stood in awe, before muttering to myself, “He can’t be serious! Am I being ignored by a bird — my own son?”

Huck flew away without his Beer Nut, and looked back at me from the branch of a sugar pine, as if to say, “You’ve got two legs, I’ve got two wings, and we are equal in the eyes of God.”

Well, it was the darndest thing I ever struck. Yes, there’s more to our Steller’s Jays, my friend, than we might ever know …


Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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