The Slingshot

The Blue Jay, a rare visitor to Salt Lake, has been seen at her feeders. The feeders are in her backyard. The gate is closed. We watch for the bird from the front yard without success. “I’ll ask,” I say, “the backyard is the key.”

I knock on the door, no one answers, there next to the door is a bag of sunflower seeds left by a birder, one who has already seen the Blue Jay. We turn to leave as she opens the door. We stop. She sees the sunflowers and smiles.

We heard about the Blue Jay coming to your feeders. “You’re welcome to look for it in the backyard,” she says. She motions, the gate’s round there. We follow the driveway along the side of the house and open the gate. Moments later the Blue Jay lands near the feeders We don’t even need our binoculars. The bird flies to a nearby tree and waits; we watch and then it flies to the west.

She comes to the back door and steps out on the porch. She is wearing a nondescript robe, maybe gray.
“Have you seen the Jay?” she says.
Yes, it was just here thank you so much for your hospitality. What a great backyard for birds. We chat one bird lover to another and then she says it, “I hate magpies.” I didn’t know what to say. The magpie is one of my favorite birds. I should defend it, but I don’t say anything.
“I saw one kill a baby bird,” she says.
I still can’t think of an appropriate response. Everyone needs to eat comes to mind, but I remain silent. Does she also think raptors should become vegetarians?

“I have a slingshot,” she says, “I shoot them.”

I remember my childhood and how cool a slingshot is. Maybe I shot at birds back then. I don’t remember. I tell myself that I’d remember if I’d killed one. I feel better.

I was about to ask, when she says, “I use marbles.” I’ll bet they’re cat eyes, I think. Lot’s of birds are killed by cats, and now she’s firing cat eyes at magpies.

The Blue Jay returns. We turn to look. It seems bigger than the Scrub Jays we’re used to seeing, maybe the white wing bar or the crest make it look larger.

We thank her again and leave. Driving away we see a couple of magpies. I roll down the window and shout a warning.

Watch out for the magpie assasin she has feeders but she also has a slingshot, and cat eye marbles and a cold heart. They bank to the left and head west away from the danger.

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