We have a chestnut tree in our back yard. Chestnuts and leaves blanket the lawn. The squirrels are in fat city. They scamper and scratch holes in the grass. They bury their treasure in the rockery.
But this year, the blue jays, who have a nest in our mountain ash tree, are in on the action too. I witness a chestnut battle.
One of the Blues descends from the mountain ash. Soon, a nut is in his beak. He returns to a branch with his prize.
Squirrel stands erect and looks distressed. He is frozen and perplexed by Blue. His tiny front paws fold over his chest. Discouraged? No. He darts to the lawn for more chestnuts.
He hops around, stores a nut in his cheek, and eventually scratches a hole to bury it. Squirrels bury an average of 10,000 nuts a year and end up eating only about 4,000.
Is it greed? Since the Blue jays have been showing up, is he hiding more of his booty?
Enter Squirrel #2. He leaps toward Squirrel #1 who scoots into the rockery.
More Blue jays descend.
Blue jays are carnivores known to rob baby squirrels from nests and prey on juvenile squirrels.
Squirrel #2 has intimidated Squirrel #1 who darts away to a more distant cranny in the rocks.
He scratches and inspects a burrow, stands on his hind legs, and looks distraught. Has Squirrel #2 confiscated a nut from Squirrel #1’s domain?
“Where’d my nut go?” he seems to be saying. Squirrel #1 is hyper, scampers to a tree, circles around its trunk, and then disappears into the tree canopy.
I imagine a squirrel conversation in the canopy:
“Betty. Sid just moved in on my turf. He’s the greediest squirrel in our berg. Even worse, the bluebirds must have a nest around here. They’re bogarting our chestnuts. Do we have enough nuts for Thanksgiving? Check the pantry.”
“Oh, Lenny. You know that I do.” Betty opens the tree pantry. Empty shells spill out.
Lenny is panicked. “OMG. Who got to them? Was it the blue jays or that greedy Sid?”
Betty shrugs. “Suck it up. We’ll get by.”
“Young Sammy will have to help. Where is the boy?”
“Last time I saw Sammy he was chasing his tail,” says Betty
“What? I thought only dogs chased their tails.”
“Chalk it up to adolescence, Lenny. Let it go.”
Okay, this may not have been the scenario in the tree canopy. And there may be no juvie squirrel named Sammy. But if there is, he should watch his back. The blue jays may move up the food chain and prey on him.