Tag Archives: blue jay

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2016!  I truly appreciate all who have visited my blog this year.  Here’s a look back at some of my most popular posts of 2015!  

Tomato Florida Weave

1.   Taming My Tomatoes With A Florida Weave:  My tomatoes were a mess, so I tried something new to try and keep things in order.
 

 

 

Blue Jay

2.    The Blue Jays are Back (and That’s Not a Good Thing):  What to do when you have nuisance birds at your feeder?

 

 

 

Garlic3.  Warding Off The Vampires:  This was my first try at growing garlic.  Easier than I thought and definitely worth the effort.

 

 

 

Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze4.  So Long Beautiful Maple Tree:  Sometimes things go terribly wrong with plant.  In this case, construction and cold brought about the demise of our beautiful Freeman Maple

 

 

IMG_38415.  November in Chicago:  This fall was quite an unusual one.  Here in Chicago, the plants were quite confused as to the time of year and it made for an interesting fall.

 

 

clematis wilt6.  Something’s Wrong With the Clematis and Clematis Stem Wilt: An Update to Something’s Wrong With The Clematis:  The wet spring affected a lot of plants.  Many of us saw some terrible die back of our clematis due to Clematis Stem Wilt.  Hopefully next spring everything will rebound.

 

westie7.  Little White Pepper Thief:  Apparently Westies love peppers.  I didn’t get any sweet or hot peppers from my garden this year because of my little thief 🙁

 

 

rabbit nest8.  Spring Surprises:  Even when you think you know everything in your garden, you get surprised!

 

 

 

Callicarpa9.  Beautyberry Bushes:  Did They Survive the Winter?  After a winter like we had, I thought I had lost my new bushes.  But, they are one of the last to leaf out in the spring, so I’m glad I was patient.  

 

 

IMG_349510.  Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses:  This was one of my favorite posts of the year.  Not only was fall in Northern Michigan stunning, my mom and I stumbled onto a forest area full of a club mosses.   Very cool to see and explore.

 

..and a few of my all-time most popular posts:

Curled Leaves On The Bushes (August 2014)

Creeping Thyme Problems (April 2014) and an update in August, Oops, September Garden Update 

Painting Rock Garden Markers (February 2014)

Pelicans In Illinois (September 2013)

Our Family Christmas Tree (December 2013)

Hope you keep visiting, I have all kinds of ideas to keep everyone in the gardening mood all winter.  

Remember, you can also find Stephi Gardens on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and  Twitter.

 

Winter Weariness

photo by peggy

While we may not be having the horrendous weather some of my friends on the East Coast are having, we in Chicago, Michigan and the rest of the Midwest are having our own winter frustrations.

This winter started out not too bad, but January and February have really kicked it up a notch.  Record snow, record cold, Old Man Winter is really piling it on, especially tough on top of last winter.

Today’s news…

weather chart

It’s hard to even think about the garden.  I haven’t really been in the mood to look at the seed catalogues that are piling up or to get ready to start any seedlings yet.  I feel like spring is never going to come.  But I know, all of a sudden this will be over and spring will sneak up on us.  Hopefully sooner than later.

My mom made use of a recent blizzardy day, where she couldn’t even see the neighbors house, to takes some photos of the feathered and furry friends who are thankful for her food.

photos by peggy

 

Photo by

 

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I think these photos made the cold, snowy, wintry day a lot better!  Hope you enjoyed them, too.

(Photo Credit: Weather graphic from Tracy Butler/ABC 7 Chicago)

The Blue Jays are Back (and That’s Not a Good Thing)

Blue Jay

My mom, Peggy, has had an ongoing issue with blue jays in her yard.  As I wrote before in Bullies at the Bird Feeder, they can be a real nuisance at her feeders.  They eat an obnoxious amount of bird seed and really act as bullies when other birds try to eat.

Now the latest problem is that they are arriving first thing on the morning in groups of up to 35 and staying to dine for 3-4.  You can only imagine how fast they can clean out the feeders and certainly scare off any other bird who may want to eat breakfast.

So what to do?  I guess Mom could have given up and just stopped feeding the birds altogether, but that would make for a very unhappy backyard.  Instead, she worked to makes the feeders blue jay unfriendly.

First, some of the feeders like the platforms and cardinal feeders just had to come down. Luckily the cardinals and mourning doves were able to find enough seed on the ground to keep them happy.  On occasion they’ll even find nice handfuls of sunflower seeds set out on the ground for them.  For cardinals, this works best in the early morning or late afternoon.

Then, some of the others were put in cages that would allow the smaller birds access, but keep out the bigger birds like blue jays out.

Photos by Peggy

The downy and hairy woodpeckers can still get in and enjoy the suet.

Photos by Peggy

The pileated woodpeckers prefer to visit another suet feeder that the blue jays haven’t seemed to find!

Photos by Peggy

The weighted squirrel proof bird feeder can be set to keep off larger birds like the blue jays.  It’s settings are sensitive enough that the cardinals and smaller birds can still feed on here.

Photos by Peggy

The most popular feeders in Peggy’s yard are actually the colorful and fun little sunflower seed ball feeders.  The clinging birds are constantly on them and the blue jays haven’t been able to figure these out.

Photos by Peggy

Photos by Peggy

Photos by Peggy

Photos by Peggy

Photos by Peggy

The oddity Mom’s encountered with these feeders is the pine siskins’ habit of just pulling out seeds and dropping them.  Maybe they’re looking for just the right one?  Still no waste though, since the ground feeding juncoes are just fine hanging out under the feeders and eating the treats.

Lastly, this ground feeder is filled with cracked corn enjoyed by an assortment of birds and bunnies.  I asked Mom why she’d be feeding the bunnies.  She said it was better they eat the cracked corn than eat her plants!  Can’t argue with that!

Photos by Peggy

 

Have you had to adjust your feeders for some nuisance birds?

Bullies at the Bird Feeder

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.

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????

Blue Jay

 

Blue Jay

 

Blue Jay

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 Jay

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.

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.

Birdfeeder

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

Birdfeeder

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.

Birdfeeder

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

Winter Birds

I showed you my mom Peggy’s bird feeders in a recent post (Peggy’s Feeders).  A natural follow up is to show off some of the birds that visit her in Northern Michigan in the winter.  Enjoy!

Junco

Junco

 

Blue Jay

Bluejay

 

Bluejay

 

Bluejay

 

Mrs. Cardinal

Female Cardinal

 

Mr. Goldfinch

Goldfinch

 

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

 

Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadee

 

Chickadee

 

And of course where there is bird seed, there’s a squirrel.  

Squirrel

 

Squirrel

 

 Photos by Peggy