Friday, November 27, 2009

I Loves Me Some Bluejays

November 18th marked the official beginning of my Project Feederwatch season for 2009-2010. I didn't participate last year, but decided to try it again this year hoping that I might have more time to watch based on my part-time work schedule. Plus, the hours I record watching my birdfeeders count as "citizen science" credit to maintain my volunteer Master Naturalist status (so it's definitely a win-win all the way around!)

I haven't had any outstanding birds show up at my feeders so far this year -- probably due to the fact that this November is going to go down in the record book as the second mildest since weather record keeping began for Rochester. The birds are still finding plenty of natural food, but I'm sure once we return to our normal Minnesota winter weather and get a couple inches of snow on the ground, the activity around my backyard birdfeeders will pick up.

But no matter what the weather, I can always count on my faithful, opportunistic, and hungry bluejays to put in an appearance. I got the tray stuck up on my dining room window again and was amazed to see that the bluejays found the peanuts literally within minutes of my filling it.

I know there are plenty of people who despise bluejays, but I am not one of them. I love their brilliant blue colors and the fact that they always seem to have something to say and usually in the loudest voice possible. I love that they have so many different calls and aren't afraid to scream a warning when the Cooper's Hawk comes soaring into the backyard -- probably saving countless lives of the smaller birdies hanging around my feeders.

My bluejays have never met a peanut they didn't like! But usually they have to go through almost all of the peanuts in the tray to decide which one they like best. The bluejays coming to my feeder usually take one peanut and fly away to cache it somewhere in the backyard--under an evergreen, in the garden, or just stuck down into the grass with a leaf covering it. I'm really not sure whether they have the ability to remember where they hide the peanuts, especially based on the number of whole peanuts I found last spring when I tilled up the garden!

I'm looking forward to my feederwatch season this year and especially the chance to just sit and watch bluejays. Yesterday morning there were several bluejay families convening in the trees outside the dining room window and I counted 14 at one time -- a new record for my backyard!


Mama Pea said...

I do wish we got more bluejays. Haven't seen one in the longest time. We fed them peanuts last winter, too, until we had to go to the Credit Union for a loan. I swear they have peanut-radar and know the instant the feeder is filled.

We saw a female Evening Grosbeak yesterday and have been hoping more will show up, but even she is not in evidence today. Like you say, I think it's just too warm for the birds to be hitting the feeders heavily.

Kelly said...

...I like Blue Jays too. Their brilliant blue during the winter is always so pretty. 14 in one tree! Lucky you... Have fun counting those birds!

Gaelyn said...

How wonderful to still have some nice weather. It will be winter soon and you'll see lots of different birds. I like the jays although they are noise, but seem pretty smart. Well maybe not if they can't find the stashed peanuts. ;-) We typically have scrub jays here.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

14 Blue Jays. WOW. I just love them. They are such lively birds. So intelligent.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mama Pea,
I too wish the peanuts weren't so expensive. They get one scoop a morning but I think I'm down to my last 10 pounds.
I'll trade you a dozen bluejays for a pair of Evening Grosbeaks--I've never seen them down here.

Thanks Kelly. They pretty much hang around my yard all summer, but the winter is when I'm able to see them in such great numbers.

Hi Gaelyn,
Sounds like our weather will be going back to normal next week, so we've definitely been enjoying the extended autumn. These bluejays are smart, but shy. I would love the opportunity to feed them peanuts from my hand, but they've never gotten used to my presence outside.

Thanks Lisa. It's always nice to know there are other bluejay enthusiasts out there!

Jayne said...

I like the Jays too Ruthie, and think I shall just pick up some peanuts in the shell later today just so I can watch them!

Ruth said...

I have enjoyed the antics of our three regular Blue Jays this season. I have never had them at our feeders before, but they seem to have moved south now.

Anonymous said...

You always know when the Jays arrive, they are always so noisy, I love that. When I hear them I go and look to see what's going on. Yesterday when we were putting up our outside Christmas decoration our nuthatches and 2 chickadees were our company. We even had a downy at the suet, we even stopped for them to watch.


Heather said...

Glad your FeederWatching this year, Ruthie! You make a good point about the weather - it's been incredibly mild here for the month, too, and the diversity and the numbers and general have not been high at the feeders. Haven't seen a Blue Jay one yet this season. Our whole peanuts are getting devoured by the Titmice and Red-bellied Woodpeckers (and occasionally a White-breasted Nuthatch). I'll post pictures of them soon.

troutbirder said...

I like my "regulars" and the feisty jays are one of them.
I don't know if you ever met Alex W at the park but I put up a video he made about Forestville

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
I hope your bluejays are enjoying their peanuts!

Hi Ruth,
I hope you get the bluejays coming to your feeders some day--they're sure fun to watch.

Hi Mom,
I wish my bluejays were as fearless around humans as the chickadees and downies. I'm glad you got some close-up looks at yours.

Hi Heather,
I would love to have some titmice around to feast on peanuts, but the bluejays don't like to share with others! I'll be checking over at your blog for pictures.

Hi Ray,
I have been on a couple Forestville birding trips with Alex as a leader so it will be fun to see your video. It's great to bird with someone so young, enthusiastic and knowledgable.