This weekend, I had the chance to help with a little Blue Jay fledgling. Even after they've learned to fly, young birds have very high protein needs (i.e. insects) and rely on their parents to locate food. So basically, he needed a temporary stand-in parent to get this done. I gladly volunteered (a.k.a. begged).
He taught me very quickly how to recognize when he was hungry by squawking and flapping his wings. It reminds me of when a 2-year-old has a meltdown and can't calm down!I bought crickets at a bait store for food which the Blue Jay loved. It was intense.He had an aversion to the legs and would quickly pull them off each cricket before he'd eat them.
Remember that movie Jurassic Park and the really scary Velociraptors? That's exactly how this bird eats crickets. Only he was fuzzy and much cuter.
Realizing the volume of insect protein this one bird needed for one day made me think about our responsibilities as stewards of this earth and the creatures that inhabit it.
In an effort for perfection, a real effort is made to eliminate insects from our lawns and gardens with grub killers, insecticides, miticides and other "cides."
When we sterilize our collective landscape, we make it harder for birds like my little Blue Jay to make it into adulthood. It doesn't matter how many bird feeders you provide if there aren't insects for the nestlings and fledglings to eat.
A true gardener should embrace all components in the garden, not just the plants. Trust that a healthy garden can and should support a wide range of birds, insects, spiders, mammals, amphibians and other creatures.
A great book on this topic is Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallemy. I read this book about six months ago, and it has changed everything for me. You know how Food, Inc. and Michael Pollan have made you think differently about how you eat and where food comes from? Doug Tallemy has made me think differently about how I garden and the impact I have on the world around me.
In other words, what is the nutritional content of my garden?