About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why Blue Jays have an undeserved bad reputation

Why do people always complain about having jays? They’re pretty and fun to watch at my feeders. – Lansing, MI 
It's pretty hard for human eyes to tell the difference between male and female Blue Jays.
Despite their beautiful blue crested appearance with touches of white and distinctive black outlines, jays often suffer from undeserved bad reputations. Their loud unmusical voices and large bounding stops make them appear imposing, unlike the shyer sweet sounding Northern Cardinals.

In late spring my feeders see a lot of big baby jays testing out their springy legs and their ability stick their landing on feeders. Jays love nuts and I like to attract them to my yard with peanut bells and seed cylinders full of mixed nuts. They have to work hard to get the food off of these seed blocks and there is no way for them to scatter seed. And sometimes a handful of whole peanuts on my fly-thru feeder is another way to call down and treat Blue Jays.

Jays are sometimes called “bully” birds because other birds may scatter when they hop on a feeder. But jays also help birds when they announce that you have filled the feeders or if there is a threat nearby.  I always give a whistle after I bring out bird food to help alert the jays and they usually will return a call almost immediately.

One day I was watching out the window and heard jays screeching and calling constantly. There were no birds at the feeders so I went out to investigate and WHOOSH!… a big Cooper’s Hawk that was sitting camouflaged in the bush flew up right by me. One bright-eyed jay spotted the predator and was not going to back down until the whole community knew there was a threat.

So next time that noisy flock of cocky, crested, and brightly colored Blue Jays descends on your feeders, take a moment to remember Mark Twain’s words, "There's more to a jay than any other creature."

Related Articles:
- Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/w4vRPP
- Blue Jays aren't blue http://bit.ly/roVPVX
- What Feeder Do You Recommend for Blue Jays? http://bit.ly/txd8ja
- Blue Jay Fun Facts http://goo.gl/wJgMmJ
- Do birds know winter is coming? http://goo.gl/EilIa6
- Why Blue Jays go bald in the fall http://goo.gl/gAX3x