Originally posted Feb 2010
If you live in North Texas, you are probably at home today or you are one of the brave and dedicated souls that spent hours getting into work on the sheet of ice that Mother Nature laid down at 4 a.m. this morning! I am one of the former – I am at home today. Although I don’t drive on ice, I did brave it on foot by getting out and filling my three bird feeders this morning – although later than usual. You see, I awoke at 4 a.m. to the sound of sleet pounding on my window. Peering outside, I realized quickly that I probably wasn’t going into work and so I turned off my alarm clock and huddled back under the covers.
At about 8 a.m., I awoke to blue jays pounding on my gutters. Yes – they act as my secondary alarm clock. If I do not get the bird seed out at daybreak, I am reminded they are waiting.
The magnificently handsome blue jays are regulars at my feeders. They are loud and raucous and bullying. However, they tend to grab their food and go – giving the doves, sparrows, juncos and finches an opportunity to feed as well. Speaking of grabbing and going . . . whole peanuts are the absolute favorite seed of the jays. If you want to attract blue jays, invest in a platform feeder and a bag of whole peanuts. You fill it and they will surely come!
Once you establish your peanut feeding routine, spend some time watching the behavior of the jays. Their antics are very interesting and entertaining. Some jays are very discerning about which peanut they choose to swipe away. The finicky jay will pick up and shake a few shells with his beak to determine which one weighs the most before flying away with it. If you follow the jay with your gaze, most likely you will see the bird bury the peanut in the ground before coming back for more. I personally watched a jay retrieve several whole peanuts from my feeder one day and take them to my back yard where he first pegged holes in the ground with his strong beak and then placed each peanut into a separate hole, hammering them one by one into the ground and out of sight.
Because acorns are another of the blue jay’s favorite foods, this type of hoarding behavior is one of the reasons the blue jay is attributed with helping spread the oak forests of our nation. When acorn seeds were plenty, they would bury so many of them they would forget where they were “planted”!
To read more fascinating information about blue jays, including listening to their various calls, go to: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Jay/id.
Until next time,