So far in our corvid story, we have met Gwen and Stephen Crowbert; their assorted chicks, including Ginny; Zen; and a raft of rehab birds who have come and gone. But one cast member has not yet made his debut: a blue jay named Snafu.
Snafu is a bird-napping victim. A family picked him up as a fledgling and kept him in their family room for three weeks until the father “accidentally” let him out. Instead of heading off, the bird went over to the neighbors to demand lunch and was duly retrieved. At that point, they contacted me and I persuaded them to bring him to me. I kept him with other jays and then put him in to bunk with Zen to remind him of his corvid heritage. I tried releasing him but, true to form, found him demanding food, shelter, and a college education from our neighbors. He escaped once more but came back on his own about 20 minutes later to order a pizza and play video games.
Birds have an imprint period when they’re chicks during which they decide that they are the same as the other creatures around them. That works well in the wild: chicks in nest see their parents and siblings and conclude that they are birds too. But if a bird gets removed from its parents, it will reevaluate and if it’s raised by humans, it will decide it’s a person. That’s why rehabbers work so hard to house orphaned birds with others of the same species and limit time interacting with the babies because once the imprint period ends, the result is irreversible. In the end, Snafu decided to join Team Human, presumably because we provide room service.
I took Snafu to SuperVet, aka Dr. Constanzo, who confirmed that Snafu was non-releasable. So now he’s Bird #2 on my education permit. Unlike Zen, he is, ah, very food oriented. That is polite trainer talk for “this bird will sell his soul for a peanut.” So after two months of proper diet, Snafu has outgrown his juvenile scruffiness to turn into a gorgeous bird. He also has learned to come for food and eat out of my hand. Next step is teaching him to step up.