Two sets of bird parents on my block are hunting for food for their young ‘uns. A pair of Western Scrub Jays has a nest in the piñon pine next to my driveway. The parents go about their good gathering stealthily. Despite the fact that they know that I am the one who replenishes the peanuts in the tray feeder and normally get excited when they see me, they will not approach their nest if I am around. Clearly demonstrating their corvid smarts, they act busy nearby and when they see me head into the garage, they quietly slip into the tree.
Today when I pulled into the garage, they were skirting the area. I noticed the Roadrunner parents pacing across the street. One tried to pounce on a Mourning Dove, but missed. I worried about the baby jays and didn’t want to loose any more baby birds from my yard. I grabbed my camera from the car and headed across the street thinking they would fly off. They were undeterred and hopped up on my neighbor’s wall. One finally left.I kept approaching, hoping to scare the other one off. It tried to act nonchalant by engaging in an extended preening routine. I was standing only 3 feet away. Then it tried to scare me off by standing up straight, raising its crest and exposing its red eye patch, and then uttering an alarm call. It was the first time I had been close enough to see the slight hook on the end of its bill, which enables carnivorous birds to tear apart its prey – if it can’t swallow them whole. I had never noticed that its flight feathers had a slight greenish hue.
Instead of fleeing, I moved even closer. It finally jumped down off the wall, walked across the dirt, stooped under the gate leading to the next street and disappeared.
I quickly returned to my garage, secure that the hovering Scrub Jays could finally go safely to their nest with food for their babies.