Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Birds from the past

When I was a kid growing up in Ontario, one of the most common birds we had were Blue Jays. My mom hated them. She thought them noisy, plus they stole peanuts and sunflower seeds that she put out for the birds, squirrels and chipmunks at home and at our cottage. They were as common as House Sparrows, Grackles, Pigeons and Starlings. 

Where I live now is the extreme west side of the Blue Jay's range, as you can see on their Wikipedia page. Here, they are rare indeed; I saw one occasionally last winter. And I guess that rarity makes them more interesting.

Besides, I never shared my mom's dislike of them. Personally, I think they are beautiful, and fun to watch. They are bold as all get out, and easy to attract up close.

This week, three showed up in my neighbourhood -- a mom and two very large young of the year. A handful of peanuts in the shell hitting the back porch is enough sound to get them to come in for a visit, no matter how close you throw the peanuts in.
Mom. Note the very white face.
One of the kids. Grey face.
They occasionally, but not always, break the shells open and get the peanuts out. Sometimes they take them away and "hide" them in the trees or bury them under the ground (where the squirrels are finding them).
Mom in the tree
The kids are just as bold as mom, and don't worry about getting close to us.
Patiently waiting for food
Being nut/seed eaters, we thought they would like something more than peanuts.
They ate the almonds first, then the peanuts, then the cranberries
The downside to Blue Jays (or any other jay, for that matter, like our more common Grey Jays or the less common Stellar's Jays), is that they will take as many peanuts we can put out, for as long as we put them out. So once or twice a day, we get a 15 minute show from a handful of peanuts we throw out for them. Like my cat, when they are done with that handful, they hang out expectantly waiting for more. Technically, we're not supposed to put out bird feeders, as the leftover food is an animal attractant. Blue Jays leave nothing behind. So we're OK with feeding them so long as they're around to greedily take our food.
A face even my mother could love

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