The following weekend I stopped quickly in at Jack Pine Trail on Saturday morning before heading out to finish my Christmas shopping. It was quiet…there were few birds around, and fewer people. However, I did discover some unusual activity in a large tree with a couple of holes in the trunk. A Red Squirrel was squawking and chattering, and while I was watching the squirrel, a tiny mouse ran down the trunk and disappeared into one of the holes! I stood still and turned my camera on, hoping it would emerge and pause long enough for me to take a picture or two. Eventually, it did – in a hole higher up on the trunk – and ran up into the branches!
I made my way to the feeder, hoping to find a few finches. There were none, but several chickadees, a Blue Jay, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, two Hairy Woodpeckers and a Mourning Dove were present. I was watching the woodpeckers when I heard something moving behind me. Thinking it was another person, I turned and was surprised to see a doe come out of the woods to snack on the buffet laid out on the bench!
I thought she would go for the carrots first, but she immediately began devouring the seeds I had put out for the chickadees. She finished those off quickly, then ate some of the carrots before walking off again.
Both ponds were frozen, so there were no ducks on the water. I did hear a Canada Goose flying over on my walk, though, so there must have been open water close by.
At the back of the trail I encountered a friendly flock of birds looking for handouts. The flock included chickadees, of course, another Red-breasted Nuthatch, a White-breasted Nuthatch and two Blue Jays which flew into a tree above me when I held my hand full of seed. I put some in the feeder box attached to a tree nearby to allow the shyer birds to eat; although the chickadees readily came to my hand, none of the other birds did. Everyone seemed satisfied with the arrangement, until a Red Squirrel appeared on the scene and began chasing the two jays!
Every time one of the jays landed on a branch close to the feeder, the squirrel would dash toward him. The jay then flew to another branch, and once landed on the top of the feeder, but the Red Squirrel kept following him and wouldn’t allow him anywhere near the food. Eventually the jays flew off, ignoring the food I had thrown down on the ground for them.
King of the Feeder!
After watching the squirrel interacting with the two jays, it was abundantly clear who was in charge of that feeder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a squirrel acting so aggressive toward a Blue Jay before; I seem to see or learn something new every time I go out!