A flock of fearless Stellar’s Blue Jays and their raspy calls of aggression are chasing the hawks out of the pine trees. I watch quietly with fascination that such a seemingly harmless bird could rule the woods with such authority. The hawks are annoyed enough to give up their turf and the jays win the battle. The jays also have the audacity to appease their omnivorous appetite by wreaking havoc on other birds’ nests, eating their eggs and newly hatched baby birds. How could such a noble looking bird be such a horrible singer and blood thirsty feudal lord over the woods? What level of consciousness does a creature have that feasts on hummingbirds and bumble bees? I shake my head at the intelligent and opportunistic antics of these royal blue coated dictators with their pointed black witch hats and realize I am learning non-violence from them.
I used to naively think that Blue Jays were a beautiful bird with a lively personality. My opinion changed one day when I was burying the kitchen food scraps in the compost pile on the hillside in our back yard. I was bending over when all of a sudden I felt something hit me right on the derriere. I looked around in a confounded way, and wondered if a pine cone had fallen from the tree and hit me. Then I went back to tending to the compost. A minute later I heard the flutter of wings and felt something hit me on the backside again. I snapped around and saw the culprit sitting on the fence with his beady eyes focused on me. That Blue Jay didn’t want me to dig around in that compost pile! From then on I surrendered to being pecked at by a Blue Jay while I had my back turned in a subordinate position, and that it would be part of the routine of burying the compost. I wasn’t the only one under attack, either. My husband, Jon, experienced the same aggressive behavior from the little rascals. We learned to wear heavy clothes to protect us from the beaks and talons. God forbid burying the compost in the nude!
Would the Jays be less aggressive if they ate more seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits, instead of bird eggs and nestlings, rodents and reptiles? I don’t think the Blue Jays are hard wired to care about non-violence and vegetarianism, but they help to teach me through their aggressive behavior, to live differently and to pursue living in peace while doing no harm. This is how we begin learning non-violence from acts of violence.