Blue Jays at the Feeder


We have several bird houses and bird feeders in our yard, including a platform feeder with sunflower seeds and unsalted peanuts.  The feeders have been receiving a flurry of bird activity, so the bird watching has been great fun.

As you might expect, there has been a steady stream of chickadees and nuthatches at the feeders.  But the blue jays have seemingly come out of nowhere to congregate at the platform feeder.  That has really been an added treat.

As some of you know, blue jays are particularly fond of unsalted peanuts in the shell, and they have been taking full advantage of these offerings.  The jays have been eating peanuts about as fast as I can put them out.  Needless to say, I have been buying a lot of peanuts lately.

There have been groups of up to four blue jays frequenting the feeder.    They fly into a nearby ash tree, perch for a couple seconds and survey the feeder area.  Then one will swoop down, grab the peanut of their choice, and fly away to perch on a limb of tree and proceed to extract the peanuts from the shell.  I watched them with a pair of binoculars and they appear to put a foot on the peanut and proceed to peck away at it until they extract the seed.

Of course all this feeding is conducted in the proper “pecking order.”  The pecking order is occasionally challenged when two blue jays come to the feeder at the same time.  I watched closely one morning as two blue jays battled for position.  One jay spread out its wings and held its ground at the feeder while the other attempted to peck at the opponents head.  I didn’t see if any of the “punches” landed, but they eventually went to opposite sides of the feeder and grabbed a few sunflower seeds while keeping a close eye on the opponent.

The blue jays will also occasionally just stay at the feeder and stuff themselves with sunflower seeds before flying away to pig out on their booty or perhaps cache it.  I am not sure how many sunflower seeds they can pack in, but by my count it is at least fifteen.  They will also occasionally stay at the feeder and hammer away at a peanut until they extract the seed before flying away.

The blue jays have been fun to watch.  So consider putting some peanuts in a feeder for the blue jays.  Then come back inside where it is warm and watch the show.

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

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