Out the Back Window | Finders Keepers

As we sat down to dinner, Melanie remarked about seeing two Blue Jays rise simultaneously from the yard below the window. They rose up gracefully to perch in the trees. They sat for a few moments and soon flew off to see what mischief they could cause. We always have a pair of Blue Jays in the back yard. They are nicely appointed in their uniforms as they patrol the woods out our back window.

 

Illustration by H. Douglas Pratt

Blue Jays are common year round residents in the eastern 2/3 of the US. They like forest edge habitats. They have a favorite food of acorns, and are often found near oaks, in forests, woodlots, towns, cities, and parks.

Several interesting facts about them are here at All About Birds
Three I liked are…

  • The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.
  • The black bridle across the face, nape, and throat varies extensively and may help Blue Jays recognize one another.
  • The oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years old.

After a few minutes of our meal, I looked again to see if the Blue Jays were still there. As I looked out the window, one flew down and landed in the grass. It had a peanut in its bill. This picture illustrates how it looked.

Julie Gidwitz

It took a minute or so to look around and poke into the grass. After a couple of tries, it succeeded in pushing the peanut deep enough into the grass. Then, it picked up a leaf and dropped it onto the spot. It repeated that with two more leaves.

During that hiding process, two Tufted Titmice sat in a bush nearby watching closely. As soon as the jay flew away, they were down on the grass looking for the
nut. It was an obvious effort on their part. They were determined to get that peanut. Sadly for them, they couldn’t find it and flew away.

A squirrel came by a few minutes later. It stopped to sniff the air as if it smelled something. It took only a few seconds for the squirrel to locate the peanut. It sat for a while as if boasting to the Blue Jays about how cool it was to have found their hidden treasure. The squirrel then scurried up the nearby tree, sat on a limb, and enjoyed the snack.

Glyn Edmunds

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12 thoughts on “Out the Back Window | Finders Keepers

  1. This is very interesting Jim! I had no idea about the pigment of Blue Jay feathers. Are you familiar with the work of photographer Suzanne Rogers? She’s an amazing photographer who spends a lot of time in the back yard with squirrels and jays. I think she would love this! I’ll have to introduce her to you.

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