Backyard Birding: Blue Jay Bullies

This year we have quite a few blue jays who have taken up residence in our oak tree in the backyard. Although they are pretty to look at, with their bright blue feathers, they tend to bully the songbirds and go through suet and seed way faster than I would prefer. I should also mention that they don’t exactly have a “song.” In fact, they really just screech all day long.

Can you tell I don’t particularly care for blue jays? Recently I began placing no-melt suet cakes in the backyard in one of those green suet cages from the big box stores and began to find lots of new birds visiting. At first, we had some thrushes, starlings and even a ladder-back woodpecker but eventually the blue-jays took over and bullied off everyone but the doves and sparrows.

If that wasn’t bad enough, they peck away an entire suet cake over the course of twelve hours and make a giant mess in the garden that is likely to start attracting other unwanted pests.

Last week I went ahead and ordered one of those suet cages with an additional external cage to block the larger birds from accessing the food. Thus far it seems to be working with the exception of the raccoon that decided she would hang off the bottom of the cage and pick handfuls of suet… it never ends I swear.

Anyway, I’ve managed to raccoon and blue-jay “proof” the suet, so with any luck I’ll have my songbirds back in the autumn and winter. As far as the blue-jays go, I blasted their empty nest with the water hose and even blasted some individually while I was watering the garden as a warning (deterring them only slightly).

Upon doing a little research I have come to find out that blue-jays are considered songbirds in Texas, thus you aren’t allowed to shoot them (not that I would, I’m in a subdivision in city-limits), but it would be nice to have the option…

In a few weeks I also plan to change out my regular bird feeder with a caged design that will further limit access to larger birds like blue-jays, doves and starlings. Additionally, I plan on introducing some higher quality feed to attract chickadees and titmice (my personal favorites). As for the raccoon, cayenne pepper and “spicy” suet cakes should solve that issue.

Published by DW

Freelance writer, photographer and traveler who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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