By the title, you’d think I was talking about those pesky squirrels again. But not this time. This time it’s an even more obnoxious bully, the Blue Jay.
Despite how handsome they look, looks can be deceiving. They are the original “Angry Birds”. My mom Peggy has a terrible time protecting her feeders, as well as the smaller birds visiting her yard, from the very unfriendly Blue Jays. The Blue Jays aggressively scare away the other birds, sometimes even killing them, then gluttonously eat up all the seed they can. It’s very frustrating to say the least.
Would you mess with this guy????
They don’t just eat what they need, but hoard it in their beak and expandable throat and esophagus. It’s said they can hold five to six Pin Oak acorns in their esophagus and beak, so you can imagine how many sunflower seeds it could hold! Once they’ve gorged themselves, they take their cache away and store it for later. Usually, they bury it in the ground like a squirrel or a dog might. Then they return for more.
Blue jays are also highly intelligent. They are remarkable in their ability to mimic other birds like raptors, presumably to further scare off any competition. They are also uncanny in their ability to figure out bird feeders. Peggy has even seen them hanging upside down from her suet feeder pretending to be a Downy Woodpecker.
So what to do? There are ways to hinder their ability to get to the feeders. The suet feeder above is often suggested as one way, but in her yard they’ve figured it out. Another option for protecting the suet from being devoured is to use a metal cage. The small woodpeckers can slip right in, but leave the Blue Jays looking longingly at it.
They’ve also figured out how to get out peanuts from this tube feeder that is usually visited by White and Red Nuthatches, Titmice and Chickadees. Into another cage it goes. The Blue Jays can get a few peanuts now and then, but it’s a lot of work
You can also sometimes adjust the type of seeds you put out. Blue Jays are much fonder of sunflower seeds than safflower seeds, and really don’t like nyjer (thistle) seeds.
Feeders like this Heritage Farms feeder also work to keep the Blue Jays off. The feeder perch can be weight adjusted to keep out the heavier birds. The seed tray gets shut tight when a too-heavy bird lands on it. Peggy has it set to allow Cardinals and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks to land and eat, but if a little bird lands on the perch with them, it’ll close. That’s a small sacrifice to make to keep the Blue Jays off.
Do you have any bullies in your yard? The other day in my yard, one of the Cardinals was chasing off sparrows trying to eat seed off the ground. Oddly though, he seemed fine with the Juncos also eating the seeds. I guess even he knows which birds are a nuisance.
Photos by Peggy