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Those “Pesky” Blue Jays

More about Blue Jays.

Love them or hate them, that is the question! I would say the answer is a 50/50 split with our customers. As other birds have migrated out of the area, the Blue Jays make their presence known with their flash of blue, their loud call and their sometimes aggressive manners at bird feeders.

Click here to listen to four different Blue Jay calls

As the splendid colors of autumn fade, I happen to love that brilliant blue against the muted colors and even more so against the soon-to-appear snowfall!

So what’s to love about Blue Jays? Their fondness for acorns and their somewhat inept ability to recover all the ones they have hidden (or maybe they just greedily hide too many!) provide the spread of the seed for the mighty oak tree; in fact, it is believed that the jays are responsible for the proliferation of the oak following the glacial age. Who doesn’t love an oak tree?!

Blue Jays have a complex social system, loyal family ties and above average intelligence amongst birds. Though they can be bullies, watching their behavior and antics at your feeder when other birds have left town can be most enjoyable.

For those who aren’t so fond of the jays, there are several reasons given. No doubt they are bullies: they will chase other songbirds away from feeders and they will take more than their fair share.

The jury is out as to whether or not they steal eggs from other nests to any great degree. They do pilfer an egg here or there, but their primary diet consists of seeds and insects, and some long-term studies show that less than 1% of Blue Jays studied had any evidence of eggs in their stomach contents.

And finally, they can be loud and pesky! Their song is more piercing than melodic and it serves as both foil (they can mimic hawks) and warning.

If you are a fan and want to encourage the blue jays at your feeder, they like a variety of food. Black oil and striped sunflower seeds are a favorite, along with peanuts in the shell and kernels of corn. Our Wildlife Snack is a perfect choice with its tasty blend of yellow corn niblets, medium cracked and rolled corn, black oil sunflower, wheat, gray striped sunflower, shell-on peanuts and peanut hearts.

Of course most Blue Jays will eat just about anything and it always amuses me to see them flying in and out of my compost bin carrying egg shells away in their feet. In addition to seed, you can offer them cat or dog food, meat scraps, popcorn and even stale baked goods.

Love them or hate them, Blue Jays are part of the tribe of backyard birds and they will let you know they are here to stay! Happy Birding!

— Written by Nancy Schofield

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