Nature, as a category in photographic competitions sanctioned by the Photographic Society of America and, to which my club, the Placer Camera Club, adheres, is the story of nature. No human elements, i.e., the hand of man, can be a part of the image. There should be no obvious evidence that man has been there. I struggle with this limitation when I submit photos for judging because many of the wild bird photographs I take are in places with the imprint of the hand of man. Photographs of hummingbirds bathing in the fountain, or feeding at the feeder, even hawks perched on a telephone pole, are not allowed in the Nature category because of evidence of the hand of man.
I am featuring the “dreaded” hand of man in my post today because it is what will allow a baby scrub jay to soon survive in the wild. There are many wildlife rescue organizations in my area and I belong to and participate in some of them, including the California Foundation for Birds of Prey, an organization that rehabilitates injured birds of prey and when possible, returns them to the wild. Saturday morning, I discovered my next door neighbor is a one man wildlife rescue. He rang my doorbell and asked to come into my yard to retrieve the baby scrub jay he has been caring for for three days after he discovered it had fallen from its nest; the bird’s sibling did not survive. The bird doesn’t fly yet but it had scrambled through a crack in the fence and hid in a bush on my side of the fence.
I suspected a scrub jay nest was in the shrubs because a pair of jays had been flying in an out regularly and very secretively. Although I searched, I didn’t discover their nest until a couple of days ago and it was empty by then. In the past few days, the jays had become very vocal, very upset whenever I went into the yard, and very focused on an area by the fence between the back yards. When my neighbor, Gigham, retrieved the tiny bird from its hiding place under a shrub on my side of the fence, one of the adults dive bombed him and both parents stayed close eying us warily as I took photographs. I dribbled a little water into the bird’s mouth and cut off a piece of thread that had become entangled on its foot. Then Gigham took the little creature back to his side of the fence where he keeps the baby safe in a box where the parents can watch and feed it. When it gets too warm during the day, or it gets dark, Gigham moves the baby into a covered box and takes it indoors. Every morning he moves the baby back outside, much to the relief of its parents.
These photographs feature the hand of a man who cares enough about wild things that he takes the time to do something to help those wild things. The parents are close by watching as Gigham holds the baby for me to photograph. The red blob on the baby’s beak is the remnants of some sort of berry fed to it by its parent. While we looked for the baby in the shrub, I’d seen one of the adults with a berry in its beak, looking for its offspring.