Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blue Jay and Red-bellied Woodpecker- Central Park 9/29/08
Photo courtesy of

As you know, I rarely post reports from anywhere but Central Park. Murray Head's photograph triggered a big response, however. I enjoyed hearing from another long-time correspondent who sent in a Blue Jay report from the Midwest. Then on the same day a postscript arrived from his mother in Hawaii!

Back to Central Park tomorrow!


I can't help but add my 2¢ to the jay discussion. I put out whole peanuts for a variety of birds, and the jays are favorite customers (although you'd be surprised what birds come down for peanuts--the hilarity of watching a tufted titmouse carrying off a peanut that's half as large as the bird itself is exceeded only by the bird's ensuing attempts to hold the huge nut in its tiny feet while banging on it to get at the meat).

I've watched as the jays have cached nuts all over my neighborhood; one winter I found peanuts lodged in the wreath on my front door! They are so adept at hiding the nuts in the ground that when I've watched one carefully bury their prize (often covering the spot with a nearby leaf) I often cannot find it when I look for it moments later! Fortunately, I put out roasted peanuts, or I'd have plants popping up all over the place, and even my neighbors have asked me why they're finding peanuts all over their yards!

I doubt the jays find most of the nuts they cache, and in my area the likelihood is even less, since I'm constantly putting out more nuts and they rarely have to resort to eating their stashed nuts.
Beautiful birds, and useful to boot!

Oh, and to make life easier for the titmice, nuthatches, and cardinals who love peanuts but have trouble with the size or the shell, I now put out shelled fragments as well, and the jays will often fill their crop with fragments before stuffing their outer beak with whole nuts.

Bill Trankle
Indianapolis, IN

From Hawaii, Marilyn Trankle writes:

I grew up in California, where we called our jays “California Jays,” a nicer name than the current “Scrub Jay.”

My mother and I trained a jay to come into our house to eat. We kept putting peanuts closer and closer to the kitchen window on the fence beneath the window. The jay learned to tap on the window when he wanted to be fed, and we’d put out the peanuts. Eventually we left the window open with the food inside on an aluminum plate and stood back while he came in and ate. One day he decided it would be much more efficient to take the entire plate—of course he dumped the whole mess on the floor and scared himself to death. Yet he came back!

Another time we put out a whole donut. The jay struggled mightily with it up to the top of the roof next door. He then dropped it and it rolled down the roof and hit a cat, sleeping beneath, on the nose. The cat ate part of the donut while the jay chattered angrily above.

We don’t have jays here in Hawaii, and I miss them. Our mynah birds help take up the slack, however!