Tag Archives: sunflower seeds

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

Squirrel Calisthenics

Anytime you put out a bird feeder, you are also bound to be inviting squirrels to your yard.  So, I now have a group, scurry, dray, or whatever a bunch of squirrels might be called, who visit on a regular basis.  I’m beginning to be able to pick each out based on their coloring and eating habits.  One in particular is quite the gymnast. I’m not sure he’s getting any net positive calories, but he sure seems to be having fun doing this.

Squirrel

Squirrel

Squirrel

Squirrel

Squirrel

Squirrel

I really can’t even be upset he’s eating the sunflower seeds because as someone else in my family said, “It’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen”.  This guy seems to be the only one who has figured this method of eating from this feeder.  Another one clings a little better, but doesn’t last very long on the feeder. Either way, they don’t get much to eat one seed at a time. The others just scavenge the seeds on the ground or on the snowman statue’s hat.  Not too much of a bother…yet.  Plus, it gives Daisy something fun to do outside.

Here’s a movie of him getting a workout:

As a bonus, if you watch the background, you’ll see some Juncos and a Downy Woodpecker coming to visit.