It's been a busy week for our neighborhood watch. Every morning, about ten o'clock or so, an intruder has invaded our Littleton, Colorado, farm and, within seconds, one of the security guards, adorned in his blue uniform, sounds the alarm.
Soon, the entire squadron is shrieking from adjacent trees and, once he's had enough, the intruder flees the scene; on most days it has been a sharp-shinned hawk but yesterday a large red-tail had settled in one of our elms. The blue jays, self-appointed guardians of our three acre plot, fall silent once the danger has passed.
Aggressive, attentive and fearless, our resident jays are happy to provide the security service and ask for little in return; pinon nuts, berries, insects and feeder handouts keep them around and seem to be adequate payment for the protection. Of course, other birds, mice and cottontails benefit from their behavior (except when the jays consume their offspring) and, as an avid birder, I appreciate knowing when raptors are paying a visit. Blue jays may be bullies at feeders but their truculence has its rewards.