The Bossy Blue Jays

Snow lay thick upon the ground in the big old garden behind the big old house, and made it difficult for Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal to find the berries and seeds they were accustomed to. So, despite their preference for quiet meals in the deep bushes, the cardinals had lately been enjoying more social breakfasts under the bird feeder.

The cardinals ate under the feeder because it was a tall and narrow tube, with nowhere they could perch. But the chickadees, nuthatches, and finches, who could perch, were good about scattering extra seeds onto the ground for their larger neighbors.

The nice thing about the snow was that it kept Trixie the cat indoors. Without the neighbor’s cat stalking around, there was very little to trouble the cardinals while they ate. But, from time to time, they were subject to an interruption that vexed Mr. Cardinal very much.

Every few days, four large and sassy blue jays flew in from the pine trees across the meadow. Like most jays, these four were as bossy as they were blue, and they refused to share.

In they swooped, calling their harsh “Skree!” and fluttered and pecked until they had chased all the other birds away. Then they would settle down to eating, and squabbling, and often fighting with each other. One jay would imagine that another had found a plumper, or brighter, seed than his own, and so (it being in his nature) would try to steal it. And as soon as the other two saw there was something to fight about, they would flap over to try and steal it themselves!

The jays acted like it was all great fun, but the raucous game made Mr. Cardinal’s head hurt, even from across the garden. He sometimes grumbled to himself about teaching them a lesson, but they were too big, and too many, to be taught by one Cardinal, no matter how brave. So he only grumbled, and wished the hawk would eat them in the pine trees.

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