The other day Dechok, the Buddhist nun who lives with us in our shared house, came in from her morning walk with her hands tightly cupped – demanding attention. I was busy at my computer which sometimes sits on the kitchen counter, and was therefore not paying any attention at all and so had to be loudly told that she was holding a baby blue jay in there and needed help. Good Lord. There is hardly ever a dull moment in a shared house – even in one as quiet as ours.
Where does this fit into our topic of finding a new affordable place to live or to figure out how to stay put? It doesn’t really. But it does point up the power of community to inject life and relevance into daily life. Which is what staying put where you are already connected is all about. They say that moving is right up there on the life trauma list with loosing a job, divorce, or a spouse or loved one dying. Although many seniors insist they are not lonely or isolated – articles about them insist that they are.
The problem is as follows: We know that isolation leads to depression (in fact it is used as a form of severe punishment in our prisons). And we know that depression leads to illness. And that illness isn’t good. For one thing it’s expensive and draining for the one who is ill, not to mention their friends and families. How much better for all concerned if we elders can manage to live an engaged and interesting life in the communities we have grown familiar with over many years.
Returning to the baby blue jay -- Dechok had found it struggling with what appeared to be a double injury to both wing and foot, and knowing that our neighborhood is swarming with feral (wild) cats, she decided that the poor thing wouldn’t stand a chance if she left it to its own devices. So she scooped it up and brought it home, not really thinking about what would happen next.
Fortunately, Elaine, another housemate who has also lived in our town for many years, and I, both happened to know of The Raptor Trust, a rare and wonderful bird sanctuary situated in an area of NJ known as the Great Swamp. In addition we knew that the Raptor Trust takes in wounded birds. Of course they were probably not going to be eager to take in a blue jay, which isn’t a raptor (bird of prey), but I thought they would probably do it because I knew of another case from my days as a lifestyle journalist in which they took in a chicken with an injured foot after no vet in the vicinity would touch it. Although they swore the chicken rescuers to secrecy lest they be flooded with injured chickens.
So there we are with the baby blue jay in a large brown paper grocery bag, rushing to the doctor, as it were, thanks to the modern miracles of Map Quest and Google, which still amaze me, coming from the pre-computer age as I do.
The trip was uneventful although once in the area of the Swamp, the maps got confused as did the GPS – but a quick stop to ask directions from a human put us right, and we arrived safely with the bird in the bag, much improved and demonstrating loudly why Jays are referred to as Noisy. In fact, the overburdened staff member who greeted us, didn’t want to take it in at all, explaining that all fledgling blue jays are kicked out of their nests by their parents, initially cannot fly and struggle around as ours had been doing, with their parents flying in and out with food and one likes to think, concern. However we (or I, in any event) greeted their suggestion that we take it back with a resounding NO, because of the thousands of cats in the area. Not to mention two curious dogs in our home, and very little high counter space. So they agreed to keep the baby bird, even though it was already much improved.
Which was a good thing.
However this encounter with the blue jay got us thinking, and we would also like to comment on the more global significance of this incident - because, as we know, everything is connected. In this case, LOL thinks that municipalities such as ours should mount “trap, spay, neuter and release” programs for the poor wild cats, which now starve behind locked garages when there aren’t enough baby birds to go around. For one thing, we imagine that if the birds were allowed to live, they would enjoy eating mosquitoes, which are the vector for some of our worrisome new diseases such as West Nile and the even more terrible Dengue which is beginning its march into areas of this country. This is not a call to destroy all feral cats. They also keep mouse and rat populations in check. It is just a suggestion that we work to reduce their numbers.
Finally, a thank you to the Raptor Trust for being there and for being of service to blue jays. That’s all for now.
Love, the Little Old Lady
The Raptor Trust is one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the United States. Located in central New Jersey, the Trust includes a hospital with state-of-the-art medical facilities, quality exterior housing for several hundred birds, and an education building.The Raptor Trust is open to the public seven days a week. Visitors are afforded a unique opportunity to view at close range the many hawks, eagles, falcons and owls that are permanent residents at the facility. There is no charge to visit, but a modest donation of $2.00 per person is encouraged.
1390 White Bridge Road, Millington, NJ 07946 Phone: (908) 647-2353 Fax: (908) 647-8211 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org