Blue jays get a bad rap from many people. Birdwatchers cuss them for their misleading ability to imitate the calls of other birds (especially Red-shouldered Hawks). Folks with feeders get tired of losing bushels of seeds to these voracious eaters. And they are feared for their aggressive behavior and tendency to rob or kill other birds’ eggs and nestlings.
But despite the bad reputation, there’s much to love about this plucky, intelligent bird. Blue jays are monogamous, and they care for their young – both feeding them and protecting them. And while they sometimes take over other birds’ nests, they build their own as soon as the eggs hatch and the babies fledge.
They also play an important role in the ecosystem, acting as natural pest control and pollinators. They are often the first to visit a new bird feeder, and they can be tame enough to pose for pictures when you put out unsalted peanuts in the shell.
Fun Fact #10: Blue jays are amazingly intelligent birds. They have been known to use tools like strips of paper to help them gather food or break into locked cages. And they’re smart enough to horde and cache food for winter in multiple locations. At Hilton Pond, I’ve seen them carry acorns off of the oak trees and into a pine grove where they bury them in pine straw.
And if you place peanuts in the shell on a platform feeder, Blue Jays will quickly become your best friends. They’ll eat them right out of the shell, but they will also take the peanuts off their feet and stuff them into their mouths without chewing.