Posts Tagged ‘Stellar’s Jays’

Those Pesky Steller’s Jays

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Idyllwild's Stellar Jay's are intelligent, curious and loud

Mention “Steller’s jays” to any Idyllwild resident this time of year, and you’ll likely hear a big groan.

“Oh, them,” they’d say. “They’re sure noisy and aggressive.”

No mention about how smart they are, or how spectacular  their comb and coat can be. Up here in the mountains, Steller’s jays are about as common as pigeons in New York City. They’re bold, inquisitive, loud and territorial—especially in the spring when they’re nesting.

Joel, who lives on Marion View in Idyllwild, said that he cannot even walk out onto his lower deck anymore because there’s a nest of Steller’s jays there.

“There’s about six of them in the nest, but all you can see is their wide open beaks,” he said.

But neither he nor his rather large Labradoodle cannot get anywhere close to the nest, or the parents will start squawking at the top of their lungs, and swooping down, trying to distract them from the nest.

“The dog knew, and turned his tail and ran,” said Joel. “We just don’t go over there anymore.”

Although they prefer peanuts or acorns, Stellar Jay's will eat dry cat food

Louise, another Idyllwild neighbor, feeds the Steller’s jays peanuts in the shell. She’s only lived in Idyllwild a short while.

“They really love them,” she said. “And so do the squirrels.”

Well, everything’s just great, as long as she’s shelling out the peanuts. However, she left for a couple of days, and her neighbor, Martha, got the brunt of it.

“They screeched at me through my open window, and followed me onto my back porch,” Martha said. “They were adamant about getting fed.”

She didn’t have any peanuts, so she gave them bread with peanut butter on it. And when the bread ran out, the blue jays went for her cat kibble.

“I was wondering what happened to the dry cat food,” said Martha, who has four cats, and puts out a bowl of dry food every day. She sets it on the porch ledge, to keep the neighbor’s dog away.

“The neighbor’s dog cannot jump up, but the blue jays can sure swoop down,” she said.

One swooped down like a stealth bomber and took the cat kibble, even while Martha was painting her deck.

“I was close enough to touch him,” she said. “But in an instant, he was gone.”

Steller’s jays “hog” the bird feeder, and get away with it because of their unusual cry. It can imitate the cry of a Red-tailed Hawk, and clear any feeding area quickly.

Their telltale “squawking” also lets Martha know where her cats are in the yard.

“All I have to do is follow the noise,” she said. “And that’s where one of my cats will be.”

No chance of her cats catching any Steller’s jays, either. They are known for their quick flight and dart actions. And they’re going to do their best to keep the neighborhood cats, dogs and people away from their nests this spring.

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