The Nice Thing About Blue Jays

By April 29, 2010 Birds, My Garden 4 Comments

Blue jay and American Honeysuckle

Now, I’m pleased to have blue jays period–they’re a gorgeous bird, and I’m delighted they chose to nest in a tree in our yard.

Despite their rep as bullies, they also haven’t so much as touched my feeder–whatever they’re stuffing into little fledgling throats, it’s not anything I’m providing, except perhaps the bugs of a heavily planted and un-insecticided garden.

But I’ve noticed lately that they have a great advantage as tenants, and that is that they’re paranoid as hell.

Now, my studio window overlooks the garden, and I spend a lot of time staring out into the yard. (When Kevin’s kids get to the point where they need separate bedrooms, the backyard will get landscaped and turned into a birdfeeding area in a great hurry, because the window from the room we’ll be moving our offices into will be overlooking the back instead of the front.) But despite the amount of time I spend staring out the window when I ought to be working, I still only see a tiny fraction of the birds that come through. Hawks and crows undoubtedly pass through the wooded areas all the time, and I have only caught them once or twice, by a chance glance at the right moment or a big shadow caught from the corner of my eye.

The bluejays, however, see them every single time.

And scream. And flail. And harass and mob and chase the unfortunate predator out of the area,  a winged Doberman being mauled by furious blue Pomeranians.

Thanks to our outraged nesters, I just saw a red-shouldered hawk, a first for the yard. (I started keeping a casual yard list–it’s closing in on forty species, and those are just the ones I remember.)  The hawk was blundering through the treetops, and then hunkered down on a branch, looking persecuted, while a bluejay perched a few feet away, screaming avian obscenities, then took off and divebombed his head.

The hawk went elsewhere, the jay in hot pursuit. A few minutes later, the jay returned, presumably muttering “Showed him. Hmmpff!” and went back to bug hunting. All in a day’s work for Super Jay.

I don’t touch their tree. I don’t even look at their tree when I’m outside. No sense borrowing trouble…


  • Alexis says:

    That makes me wonder if you could get away with keeping chickens around blue-jays, if they might help defend poultry. I’m thinking probably not though, but it’s an interesting thought.

  • Lisa says:

    I live in NJ and I have a handful of blue jays that are VERY interested in hanging around my back yard this season. I have an organic veg garden growing and I first noticed the jays flying up out of my strawberry patch within the first week I planted it. They probably pulled about 8 plants up out of the ground before I covered the patch with chicken wire and put an end to it. They haven’t left though. Most times I glance out the window, one or more of them are hopping through the gardens… do you think they are eating the bugs or bothering the rest of the plants?!
    Not sure what I should do. Should I build a scarecrow? 🙂

  • Well, they ARE corvids, for all the brighter paint job. Glad to read that they are not always bullies, except to predators. I’ve always liked them, but I know other folk that are not nearly as thrilled.

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