Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Friends in unexpected places

When I'm out backpacking the most remote peak in the White Mountains, what do I expect to see?

I keep an eye out for bears, moose, beaver, crazy old people, birds, squirrels, maybe even a sasquatch if I'm really lucky. But I never expected to see this:

We were hiking right along the Bondcliff trail, when I noticed a couple of large, gray and white birds I couldn't identify.

"Hmmm..." I thought, "Those are cool, I wonder what they are."

Several minutes went by, and it seemed they were flying from tree to tree, keeping just ahead of us. Enough time had passed that I felt certain it was on purpose, and then I realized I had lost sight of one of them. A strange feeling crept over me, ya know, like someone or something watching... kinda like those weird cut scenes from Predator where the view is kinda Rhasta-alien vision.

I looked to my right, and there, uncomfortably close, was the Little Mister, and it began to feel like a mugging...

Fortunately, my traveling companion was swift of thought, and said, "Try to give him some trail mix, Kevin.".

So I reached into my bag, and held out my hand. He gave me one look with that bird-neck-twist thing, and flew right down and perched on my hand. For the next thirty minutes or so, the two birds (spouses, as I would come to find out in subsequent conversations), kept a frequent caravan from tree to hand.

The whole group got into the act. We used our hands, our heads, and I even put a cheerio in my mouth, and he landed on my beard and took off with his prize.

Wierd and unusual, I thought. That is, until I got home and did a little internet searching. Turns out they were Gray Jays. And our experience was nothing unusual. I guess they are just a personable bird in general, and humans is one of their normal food sources.

So if you're out hiking and you get that weird feeling, pop some peanuts (they don't like M&M's), and do it quick. Because I still see that face in my sleep and wonder what would have happened had I refused to share my lunch...

1 comment:

samuel said...

I remember running into Jason Gray a lot, when he lived with us.