by Larisa White, of California, U.S.A.
A few weeks ago, the tiniest little Bewick wren I ever saw flew out of a bush and sat on the fence while I snipped some kale for dinner, peeping at me continually, to let me know that this bit of the yard was his, that he was watching me, and that he was NOT AFRAID of me! I wondered: should I be afraid of him?
So I introduced myself, and reassured him that I would never harm him or his family, and that he was welcome to my mini-farm as hunting ground.
A couple of weeks later, I discovered that he and the Mrs. had discovered that they can squeeze through the holes of our 1″ mesh hardware cloth (which protects our crops from rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and crows), and inside, they have found a completely protected location in which to vacuum up pest bugs for us. Top tier restaurant dining, that!
This morning, they came to our garden with their kid. The three of them feeding voraciously on the caterpillars that have started pestering our caged and ripening blueberries. Mr. Bewick even came by the window to peek in and say hello.
This is the essence of a thriving gift-economy at work: we work to offer them a protected hunting ground in the mini-farm area of our yard, and nesting sites in the restored native ecosystem; they work to keep the pest population down for us. A lovely alliance.