Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blue Jays - At Last

We had a very satisfying winter of bird feeding, but one obvious gap was blue jays. We know they were around -- we'd see them other places, or hear them -- but they didn't seem to be attracted to our feeders at all. We recently learned that in-shell peanuts are a favorite of blue jays and decided to invest in a wreath-style feeder I'd seen on another birder's blog. The first location we tried, right in a small evergreen, wasn't a success, so we moved it to hang more out in the open and within a day or two we started to see jays.

Above, the jay has a peanut in its beak. The technique for getting the peanut out took some trial and error. The peanuts have to be pulled out of the outer, more open side of the coil, but the bird generally perches on the inside for stability, resulting in some minor contortions. The blue jay is known for its intelligence and tight family bonds. As with the other jays and the closely related crows, male and female birds look alike.

Here, a jay perches on the top of one of our shepherd's crooks that support feeders. I love the wings; they are like stained glass.

In reading about blue jays on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds site, I learned that they have unconventional migration behaviors:
Thousands of Blue Jays migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, but much about their migration remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. No one has worked out why they migrate when they do.
 I hadn't realized that blue jays migrate at all; the range maps show a large year-round range with only tiny areas considered seasonal only.Here is a eBird map showing sightings covering about the eastern three-fifths of North America.


Jim H. said...

The Blue Jays also showed up in Minneapolis and embarrassed the Twins' bullpen.

Bird Feeder said...

That's some great Blue Jay Photo's there.