Readers Ask Questions About Blue Jays

By Ann Hingas

Jays' aggressive behavior stimulates emotional response: Readers Write About Blue Jays, Ann Answers

Last Update: 5/20/08


Nothing better argues for the popularity of the Blue Jay as a visitor to our feeders than the flood of mail received following a recent column about this spectacular backyard raider:

Dear Ann,

I was reading your post to the person from Chico, and you had mentioned most likely she was seeing Steller’s Jays. Well, I too for the first time today (in Northern CA) saw this awesome bird I could not identify, it did look much like what I found to be a blue jay. So when I read your post, I looked up Stellar’s Jays, and that looked nothing like what I saw.

I have now identified what it was I saw, it is the Western Scrub Jay. You will see that these are very similar in color to Blue Jays, being white, blue and grey. I thought I was seeing a Blue Jay also until I saw they don’t come west of the rockies, and kept looking at other birds.
Just thought I would share.


Maya (5/17/08)

Yes, thanks for the note!
I hadn't thought of the scrub jays, not knowing exactly what the habitat is like there, so I appreciate this. I'll post your response on the site if you don't mind. I will not include your email address unless you specifically tell me otherwise.

Re scrub jays....just visited Fla. recently where I saw a number of Florida Scrub Jays which look a great deal like the Western Scrub Jay. Long lost relatives?
Here's a Florida Scrub Jay photo I took on that trip:

Best wishes,
ah

 


Dear Ann,

A pair of young stellar jays worked in vain for about 3 weeks trying to put together a nest under our tallest eaves on a beam. Tired of seeing them strive so hard in vain. I had someone put a nice basket tied to the beam, under the roof. Within 10 minutes they arrived and very happy they started building up the nest with many twigs and mud over 3 days or so, then one evening they disappeard and have not returned to the nest which seems to be finished. I think I saw them around but they abandoned that nest where they worked for almost 4 weeks. Is there any explanation to this? Can you help? I would love to see them back! Thank you so much!!

OrganicBananas, 5/4/08

 

Dear OBananas,

My guess...as you said, these appear to be young birds, probably first time attempting to mate...they make a lot of misktakes....sometimes the male will go to all sorts of nest building only to have female reject it....so if you can figure out what criteria she uses, then you are one up on everyone. Older birds would not make such mistakes. Maybe too close to window or door? Try moving your basket around.
Good luck,

ah

Dear Ann

thanks so much for your help.A neighbor also told me that they build decoy nests for the protection against ravens. Amazing! All the Best!

Organic Bananas.


Dear Ann,

Yesterday a bluejay attacked a killed one of our pet doves that was sitting on a nest . Then he came back later an tried to attack the one left in the cage. What can we do to keep the blue jay from attacking our dove and its nest which are in a hanging cage .

Thanks
Joanne 4/21/08

At 11:37 AM 4/21/2008, Ann wrote:

About the only solution is to try an owl dummy or hang aluminum plats about the dove cage.
This usually happens only when jays are nesting. He/she will stop attacking your doves soon.


ah



Dear Ann,

I live in the suburban Northern California. My cat is an unusual kitty in the way that he likes to be taken for a walk. About one month ago on Blue Jay probably a male started to follow us around. First, I thought it was cute. Now the female joined him and within couple of days they became very aggressive. They completely terrorized the cat, they peck on him when they see him by actually touching him with their claws, they try to peck on me too when I carry the cat. The birds figured out which balcony is ours and now try to servile it starting early morning. At the same time they make these very loud awful noises. My poor cat is afraid to go outside and on the balcony. It reminds me of Hitchcock's' movie "The Birds". I am appalled by the Blue Jays aggressive behavior. I don't know how to scare them off. They probably have a nest near by. I just want to know when this aggressive behavior of theirs will stop and if there is anything I could do about it.

Ekaterina

At 04:05 PM 4/26/2008, you wrote:

Yes, they no doubt have a nest very close. You could look for it and tear it down, or you can wait them out until the young ones fledge or leave the nest.
Sorry for kitty. My cat gets buzz-bombed by blue jays too this time of year.
ah


Dear Ann,

I became fascinated with birds many years ago, when we moved to the country  and our bird feeder was put up.  The usual birds appeared, but in five years of living here no Blue Jay appeared at our feeder.  Then I started watching more and more, and I have counted five now that come to my bird feeder.  They sure are amazing birds with their calls, and sounds.  I study them as they fill up and take flight back across the fields, across the river into the forest.  Why would take so long for them to start coming? Thanks for reading this letter from a bird lover.
Sandra Nicholson
St. Louis, Mo.

 

Dear Sandra,

It is surprising that it took your local jays five years to discover your feeder. Perhaps untimely subzero weather killed many of the Blue Jays in your area and they have just started to recolonize, or perhaps the habitat around your feeder has changed in the last five years to become more appealing to them.  They like conifers in particular, so if you have some trees that have grown up around your house/feeder, that may be the main attraction.

 

Dear Ann,

I grew up in Northern California (Chico) where we had Blue Jays everywhere.   I now live in Oceanside, California where we do not have them in our
neighborhood, but they are two blocks over in a bird sanctuary area.  How do I attract them to my back yard?  We have a zillion crows around here along with
hawks and many other birds.  We have pine trees and other trees for their safety.  I miss their sounds and especially miss seeing their antics.  I am
one of those people who happen to love Blue Jays.  So the dilemma...how do I attract them here?


Any information would be helpful.
Thank you for taking the time.
Cynthia Marks
Chico, California

Dear Cynthia,

It isn’t likely you had Blue Jays in Chico, California.  The Blue Jay appears only east of the Rocky Mountains.  More likely, you had Steller’s Jays where you lived.  They look a lot like Blue Jays except they are a much darker shade of blue with no white feathers.   The best way to attract them is with a feeder.  My experience with Steller’s Jay is that they love cut up pieces of apple, banana and raisins.   Try putting some of these items in your feeder. 

 

Dear Ann,

I found a baby Blue Jay a couple of weeks ago and have been nursing it since.  Mom and Dad were killed by neighborhood cats when the nest was blown out of the oak tree after a breezy day.  I have fed it a "Blue Jay Pate" of mashed up kitten and puppy chow boiled in water mixed with powdered baby bird food.  It has been THRIVING! 

My problem now is I think it is too tame to go out in the wild.  It has become very attached to me and is not afraid of my indoor cats (not the culprits--indoors all the time.)  One of my cats even curls up with it and I have discovered them sleeping together.

It's getting its flight feathers and can fly at most about 3 feet.  It's incredibly active and hops around all the time.

What's the best thing I can do for it at this point?  I'm torn, I feel guilty for taking it in but I couldn't just leave it out their to die when I found it under the bushes...and now I have become attached as well.  Help!

Thanks,
Jacquie in Orlando, FL 

Dear Jacquie,

I am sure your life has been enriched by this experience, but now you, and maybe the bird, must pay the price.  It sounds as if the youngster has imprinted on you, meaning it thinks you are its mom.  The bird may or may not survive in the wild now, because it has had no parental instruction on how to obtain food.  It sleeps with a primary predator of its species.  Next time you find an orphaned baby bird, it is best to let nature take its course.  The only other responsible alternative is to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area.  Your local natural resource/conservation officers should be able to direct you to one.  It is a violation of federal law to keep any song bird captive without special permits.

Dear Ann,

I saw a most unusual sight the other day. A Blue Jay was in a small tree
eating a smaller bird which appeared to have been a house finch. Is this
normal habit? It was my first time to observe something like this but by
the time I got the camcorder out, he had flown away and obviously took
his dinner with him, leaving behind only one leg, foot attached. Kinda
grisly!

Jody Hahn

Ontario

Dear Jody,

Yes, Blue Jays are a bit notorious for this sort of thing.  They will raid the nest of all other species in their territory and do just what you saw.  Jays are omnivores, and seem to be especially interested in nestling birds at this time of year.

Dear Ann,

We had several  pairs of Bluebirds. One pair  did have four baby birds, but I watched a big Blue Jay snatch one and beat it on the ground until he killed it. I ran him off, and the Bluebirds were diving at him but were no match for him and within the next two days he killed the other three...he left one in the nest,  it's little head hanging out of the Bluebird house.
Why would they be so mean??
I now hate these  awful Blue Jays and plan to rid my yard of them.

Kay
Monroe County, Alabama

Dear Kay,
It is a cruel world out there, but please don’t make it even more cruel by “ridding” your yard of Blue Jays.  They are just doing what millions of years of evolution have determined is best for their species.  The bluebirds may produce another brood this year, but even if they do not nest again, there is no valid excuse to kill a song bird of any kind.  First, it is a violation of federal law to kill a song bird.  You were privileged to see this example of Mother Nature “in the raw.”  Don’t ruin it by eliminating more of her creatures and adding to the body count.  If you do, then the baby Bluebirds’ lives were totally in vain.

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Posted 6/12/01

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