Sunday, January 2, 2011


When I was very young, I heard loud bird screeching in the side yard. I hopped off the porch swing and walked around the corner of my house. There, I saw a blue jay swooping and screaming around a young bird on the ground. With all the righteous indignation of a typical 6-year-old, I marched over to save the baby from the Blue Evil, but my good intentions fell away when the jay switched her attention from the baby bird to the top of my head. Blue jays have long sharp beaks, and she applied hers with vigorous force.

I abandoned my mission and ran shrieking back to the front porch, sobbing out my story. That was when I learned from my parents that mama blue jays don't like little naturalists messing with their fledgelings.

It took some years to recover from that trauma, but I managed to forgive the mother bird for her attack.

The blue jays in the Not-So-Big Woods enjoy irritating me in a totally different way. For 3 years, we've been trying to lure them in with offerings of peanuts. For 3 years, they've been indifferent.

Until now.

Choosing carefully. Not all peanuts are equal.

Desperately wanting to carry two nuts at once, but beak capacity is limited.

Suddenly, for no reason that I can find, we've been stamped "APPROVED." A blue jay couple visits every morning, scooping up peanuts both shelled and unshelled. Unlike many other situations I've read about, our jays don't bully the smaller birds, probably because we have so much food available and spread out over a large area. 

Cramming shelled and unshelled nuts at the same time.

Too many nuts in the crop to easily push this one down.

Taking off, fully laden.


  1. So true. Just wait, they will start calling you the first time you forget to fill the feeder. No problem with the local jays, they even share with the chickadees. ATB!

  2. I love Blue Jays. They tend to stay in the trees at the drive, only coming near the house mid morning and rarely to the feeders. I'm going to have to try to lure them with peanuts. Hope it doesn't take five years for acceptance though.

  3. Rusty, maybe that's what all the ruckus is in the trees in the afternoon when the seed gets scarce.

    JSK, we had the most luck with unshelled peanuts laid out on a railing. They still ignore the nuts in the feeder.

  4. Glad to hear the Blue Jays have finally agreed to visit your railing. Agree with Rusty, they'll let you know if you've failed to put those nuts out.

  5. I'm glad you've finally become an approved vendor. Jays can be finicky, though usually they just bully their way in and take what they want. And it's so funny to watch them try cramming more food than they can carry. One nut dropped or left behind could be a total loss...

  6. @Jason: Worse than a total loss: a $%*@#! squirrel might get what's left behind.

  7. What a great story! And oh are those jays gorgeous!!! I'm so glad you were "approved".

  8. Nice story, Joy. I'm fond of jays, too. When I was in British Colombia last summer, I enjoyed seeing Stellar's Jays, very unlike the Blue Jays we have in NYC & Texas.

  9. I just looked up Steller's Jays. That's some crest!

  10. They will regularly visit your garden for those nuts.