Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blue Jays

I was in my kitchen when I heard an odd noise outside my window.  It sounded like a chorus of rusty, hand-operated water pumps.

By the time I got to the window to look, my bird feeding station had been taken over by five bold and brassy Blue Jays.  There was not another bird in sight.

These brazen "boys in blue" stood at my feeders, literally stuffing their faces with sunflower seed.  Like their corvid cousins, jays have expandable throat pouches designed for temporary seed storage.

When they could stuff no more, the jays flew off to cache the seeds somewhere out-of-sight, in a hollow tree or beneath shrubs.

I am always happy to see these incredibly intelligent birds in my yard.  I enjoy their social displays and amazing variety of vocalizations.

I cringe when I hear people say they just don't like these aggressive Blue Jays because of their undeserved reputation for taking eggs and hatchlings from other birds' nests.  Truth is, these jays prefer acorns, fruits and invertebrates - including tent caterpillar pupae and paper wasp larvae.

At backyard birdfeeders, Blue Jays prefer raw peanuts in the shell, shelled peanuts and sunflower.  They will also eat cracked corn and millet.

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