I thought it was the squirrels burying peanuts all over the backyard. I find them in the unlikeliest places, and often I can’t figure out how the bloody tree-rodents managed to drive them into packed earth without disturbing anything around.
This morning, however, I was trimming my hair on the back deck 1 and a plump, extremely iridescent bluejay swooped into the yard carrying a peanut from the squirrel-feeders next door.
What? Yes, some people actually feed the little arboreal assholes. Case in point: our curmudgeonly neighbor, who is bitter as gall but also takes care of all the stray cats in the neighborhood as well as keeping feeders supplied with corncobs, pressed squirrel loaf, and peanuts.
Many are the strange things in suburbia.
Anyway, the thing that caught my attention was not the bluejay’s bright plumage. It was his silence. Of course, he had a beak full of peanut2 and was casting nervous glances at every corner of the yard.
I kept going, and he obviously judged me little threat. He flew down, set the peanut carefully aside, and pecked among the violets. I thought he was probably looking for a good place to wedge the peanut so he could peck it open, but no. He pecked out a shallow hole, dropped the peanut in…and began ramming it with his beak, driving it deeper.
All in complete silence. Now, bluejays are extremely vocal, but this fine feathered fellow is excessive even among his type, and the quiet was a bit unnerving.3
I was glad the dogs weren’t out to see this. The last thing I need is Sir Boxnoggin discovering the joy of chasing yelling featherballs.
Anyway, BattleJay–so I have named him for his constant sonic assaults upon the backyard–was finally satisfied as I finished trimming my fringe.4 He flew away, and I heard him screaming something that sounded suspiciously like The British are coming, hide your fokkin pewter! in another neighbor’s yard while shaking ripe apples down from their tree.
And then, my friends, Batgirl the gymnastic pole-dancing squirrel scampered from one of the surviving cedars along the back fence. She had been watching with a great deal of beady-eyed interest, I guess, because she went straight for the buried peanut and got to work. She dug it out like a pair of rabid tweezers digging for a tick, and once she had her ill-gotten gains it was back into the cedars with her head held high–because the peanut was almost bigger than her head, too.
I almost admire the thieving little dumbass. Almost.
BattleJay has not returned. But when he does, I suspect there will be hell to pay…