The early bird wants my breakfast

Posted: Sunday, April 29, 2007

I woke up Friday morning to find a Steller's Jay staring at its own reflection in my living room window.

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Cock-eyed and curious, he examined himself closely. He seemed confused by his own blue-black reflection, probably wondering if it had any breakfast to be stolen.

I was enjoying an apple and black coffee in my apartment. Normally I don't eat much before noon, but I'm trying to get in the habit. I hear it's the most important meal of the day.

I had just taken a sip when the jay realized I was there. Talk about a break with reality. You think you're looking at your own kind, only to discover that behind all your preconceived notions is a gigantic, alien, two-legged beast.

And it has food!

He did a double-take and hopped away from the window onto a branch. He seemed to swoon. But he gathered his composure and tilted his head and leaned toward the window. This time he was looking through the glass at me.

He seemed to nod his head in the direction of a bare branch.

I walked closer to the window and saw he had a half-dozen jaunty, brazen friends hopping through the blue-green branches of a Sitka spruce. They flew down through underbrush and picked at the bark of some nearby trees that were still bare after a long winter. They bounced between the limbs, always tilting their heads at the same quizzical angle.

I've seen this gang before. They blow through once or twice a day.

But on Friday, I realized what they wanted: my breakfast.

They're learning my routine, studying my moves, recording when I come and when I go. They want to break in and steal my apples. They want my coffee. I saw it in their eyes.

Maybe I just had too much caffeine.

After a minute or two, I figured out what was really going on; why they return, day after day; why they searched each inch of those bare trees in clear and present frustration.

They even peeled a perfect loop around one branch as if something used to hang there.

It's right at eye-level for a mid-sized man. Quite a hint.

They want a bird feeder right in time for bear season.

I feel like a bad host. I hope they don't cut their visit short.

• Ken Lewis can be reached at

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