Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1:25 PM

Blue Jays Never Get the Blues

We managed to snap pictures of these Blue Jays as they were sunning themselves on the hill right behind our house. They may be noisy and somewhat annoying at times but, boy, do these guys know how to relax!

Blue Jays are a common sight everywhere. We live in a wooded area, which happens to be their favorite habitat, but they are also common in suburbs and even cities. Jays really prefer forests with a large population of oak and beeches. In fact, they have been credited for the spread of these species of trees via their expansive travels and propensity to “cache” regurgitated food (including seeds) in forests all over the Northeast and beyond.

Despite their beauty and utility, however, Blue Jays are often reviled. Bird enthusiasts dislike them because they scare other birds away from feeders and are generally aggressive and noisy. There is a general perception that they plunder other birds’ nests, but this appears to be the exception rather than the rule.

Jays, who are related to crows, are extremely intelligent birds. They are very adept at snatching food, and, like crows, will observe planting activity and, later, dig up and eat the seeds. In fact, Jays are true omnivores, and will steal almost any food item when the opportunity arises! I’m sure that this trait has helped them expand their territory and become one of the most commonly observed birds in the U.S. and southern Canada.

These birds are accomplished mimics. Personally, I always thought that they were related to Mockingbirds. I found them to be very similar in behavior and even in their markings (although different in color, obviously). Maybe they aren’t quite as good as Mockingbirds when it comes to mimicking, but they do excel at copying the cries of birds of prey, their main predator. This ability, along with their general raucousness and tendency to harass hawks and other predators seems like an apt survival technique. When you’re brightly colored, rather large and don’t fly very fast, it makes sense to go on the offensive!

If you’re interested in more information on these entertaining and beautiful birds, try Audubon Magazine and Wikipedia.

Just So You Know: Finally I read an article in the newspaper about the fact that the price of gasoline has been creeping up, ever so slowly, over the last few weeks. I had been noticing that each week it would be 3 or 4 cents more expensive than the previous week, but there was never any mention of it in the news (at least that I saw). I guess the big guys at the major oil companies learned from the price shocks of last year that there's less outcry if they raise the prices a little at a time. It's nice to know that they are so concerned with our stress levels.
Chat later!


Anonymous Says:
May 31, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Hi Amanda...yes, indeed, those jays would watch me plant sunflowers in my LaGrange garden and by morning, the seedlings would be gone! They know a good thing when they see it! Pam

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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