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why do blue jays peck at tree branches

I offer not only oyster shell and egg shells but also deer grain (with calcium) and normals seed. No birds like that it seems. Reading all these great comments, I couldn’t help but remember my childhood when my folks kept chickens. I have seen dogs and other animals mark their territory by urinating. Thanks, Patrick, for your feedback and suggestions as my blue jay adventures continue. Maybe food-color the eggshell to see if color is a variable. I think your own findings have answered my questions. They were trying to rid the neighborhood of the competition, I guess. PS: It is always amusing when ‘science’ is baffled by how birds or other members of flora and fauna, humans included, know how to eat what they need. We learn something every day thanks to all of you. Offer egg shells, the various online threads suggest, specifically after sterilizing them by boiling or heating in a 250F oven for 20 minutes, to prevent potential salmonella transmission. I jus wish the squirrels would leave the vegetables alone.  Start watching birds and you will see them doing this all of the time. Woodpeckers peck at homes for three reasons. I like the idea of putting out eggshells as an alternative. Then I will ask my butcher for some suet. I’m guessing that’s it because the squirrels in my front yard have been using the boards on my front porch for sharpening their teeth. She seemed to be pecking at the windowsill (above), but.. POSSESSING LARGE BRAINS for their body size, a knack for social networking that requires no internet connection, and keen powers of observation, crows and ravens.. And now, at last, the first crop of tree fruit is ripening on the branch. It’s used in playing fields for bocce ball too. Margaret now you have me thinking about our Sulphercrested Cockatoos here in Australia. The theory is that blue jays in the Northeast and Eastern Canada may collect and cache calcium in anticipation of increased needs in nesting season. the cakes, whereas in prior years they used to just visit the sunflower seed feeders. Hilarious! At such a … They store food in caches to eat later. A blue jay hunts for nuts and seeds in the forest at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md., in February 2017. I witnessed the young vulture sitting on a low branch of a tree while the crow was on the branch above him. Thanks for another excellent piece. Yes. There are a fair number of them here–rural area, crunchy cat food for the outside cats, a compost pile with those egg shells in it–but I’ve never observed this behavior before. I found a blue jay nest in my fir tree a few years back. So interesting. Like squirrels, blue jays pull acorns off the branches, instead of waiting until they fall to the ground where they’re also eaten by chipmunks, wild turkeys, foxes, and deer. I now wonder if the paint too contains an ingredient they are seeking. They have essentially destroyed a $3000 paint job. Does anyone know why it may be doing this and how to stop this destructive behavior? Evolution in progress I call it!!! Though the original articles it refers to—from “Bird Watcher’s Digest” and Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s former membership publication “BirdScope”—are more than 10 years old and not online, this synopsis on Project FeederWatch provides the basic explanation: Limestone, a source of calcium, is often an ingredient in paint (especially pale-colored latex paint birds prefer, apparently). This isn’t what you want. A great article, thanks. In the Spring, when I prepare my potting soil, I also add course vermiculite for drainage. Hopefully scientists will follow suit! I have often seen a bird rub its beak on a branch or part of a tree and wondered why they do it. Wouldn’t want to seek to have them shot either but I can not take them destroying yet another paint job. Birds rub their beak after eating. I think the main problem would arise if an egg accidentally broke in the nest box, and they discovered the tasty insides! With smaller pieces of shell, or the paint chips, or for that matter bird seed, they load up awhile before flying off to hide the stash, putting the bits in their pouch-like “crop” temporarily. Why is a woodpecker damaging my house and how do I stop it? I live in California and people here want to call the Scrub Jay and the Steller’s Jay a Blue Jay… and I feel like the lone voice – “that’s NOT a blue jay”. DEMONS! I've brought those together here in my blog where I share fun nature facts, some of our adventures, and give hiking tips. Then the blue jay on the ground got up and flew about 4' away from it's original place and assumed the same position on the ground . The other 2 birds were moving around on the tree . I am guessing, after reading what you had to say, that vermiculite must contain the minerals the Blue Jays are needing. They are great paint eaters, especially around windowsills. What a coincidence! Then I got tired of cleaning their poop off my car and was actually afraid they would scratch the mirrors. I make my own suet cakes and always include crushed eggshells since I read years ago that birds need this when they are laying eggs to raise their broods. The squirrels here are at an all-time high, so don’t get me started on that subject! If you have a bird feeder, you’ve probably noticed times when all the birds clear out, and suddenly a … You've planted and pruned, watered and watched it grow. Blue Jays can be very aggressive to other birds; they sometimes raid nests, and they have decapitated other birds. My secret reason for doing this is that I want more people to become nature addicts like me. The nest had the plastic 6 pack holder woven into the nest. The squirrels lugged off the egg shells. Required fields are marked *. Blue jays do very well in the presence of humans, and the patchwork of yards (some stocked with bird feeders), fields and woodlands found in rural areas makes for fantastic habitat. Certain woodpeckers do that on my house where there is carpenter bee larvae in “tunnels” waiting to hatch, too…but not in the deep freeze of winter. Then the birds descend. — the insect larvae that’s been deposited there. Has anyone thought of hanging one of those calcium things that are used in bird cages – I think they’re called cuttlebone? Oh, Diane, what a sad tale. I have to tie reflective tape (like a mylar streamer) up high on certain spots on the house to politely ask them not to do it.  It is important that birds keep their beak well shaped so that they can eat their preferred food choice. Would they have been less likely to take a taste of a porch painted bright red or black, for instance? Every single one I put out disappears quickly, and I often catch sight of the bird flying with a beak full of a half shell. well I have given these nasty birds all forms of calcium as I said , oyster shell, egg shell, cage bird grit, cuttle bones etc. I kid you not. The house was just professionally painted in the fall of 2011 it should no way be destroyed yet. :). It’s illegal under federal law to trap, kill or even relocate any native non-game birds including blue jays, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, fyi. The young turkey vulture seemed confused and a bit scared but stayed in the same spot on the branch; didn’t move. Blue jays. Nesting Nest Placement. I just bought a hunk at the store, and am wondering if I should stuff it in a suet cage or tie it to a tree. Who’d have ever thought a bluebird could be a pest? Nothing stops them. I would sure like to know what the blue jays are saying to each other. How do I get rid of Blue Jays? : ). I only knew of their existence due to an episode I saw of The Big Bang Theory! Your email address will not be published. I’d been watching the bluejays eating the paint away and thought perhaps my patio wood had bugs in it. As soon as ground was bare they stopped. Yes, you are correct, Sarah, they like light-colored paint. (04/14/2006) By Isaac. Some posit that blue jays do this as an alarm call, alerting other blue jays to danger. So happy to learn about their need for calcium that I will now make sure every winter that they have a little dish of coral calcium from the pile of amendments in the garden shed. Keeps woodpeckers from hammering the house, too. Just last week I saw a tree sparrow actually land on the back of a huge red tail and peck for several seconds before flying away .the swallow had a baby in vicinity It was the vermiculite they were after. Listen live at 8:30 AM EDT Mondays, to the replay Saturday morning, or stream the podcast anytime. I get the kind with black sunflower seeds. All crows eat meat, some more than others. I think I will this year. I never even thought about birds going after them.  Birds’ beaks tell us a lot about the bird and it is important they keep their beak in good condition. Margaret's weekly public-radio show, from Robin Hood Radio in Sharon, CT, the smallest NPR station in the nation. A winter flock of blue jays is likely to have a dominance hierarchy, or “pecking order” of individuals, which determines who gets the first crack at food. Birds do this for all sorts of reasons — sometimes birds peck at wood shingles or decking to simply reach — and eat! We give them crushed oyster shell from the farm store instead. The BlueJays are just totally obsessed with the paint. Back to top. I made egg salad for an event Saturday — 3 DOZEN eggs — and put out ALL the shells afterward…and ALL were gone that afternoon. Some birds might peck as they search for a great place to nest. We disclose material relationships and share honest opinions. Pay special attention to your home and landscape during nesting season, typically during late spring. My carpenter soaked the areas with mineral oil and they stopped. Want to plan your most ecologically minded garden cleanup ever, and understand the consequences of each potential action you can take—including next spring? How are you putting out your slabs of suet? They do this in order to keep their beak clean. I tried putting the eggshells I had saved for many weeks. I’ve noticed that once my newly potted plants are sitting on my patio, the Blue Jays sit on the edge of the pots and gobble up the vermiculite. I am hoping all are fairing well without me but I bet they miss the peanuts I usually put out every day. For wild creatures who are not destroying their palate’s with synthetic ‘food’ like engineered snacks, etc, (read Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. Then again about the woodpecker, one was pecking on my wooden siding several weeks ago-seems rather early in the season. For what it’s worth, Deborah, we’ve been giving crushed eggshell back to our chickens for years. A bunch of blue jays let me know there was a snake in my oak tree yesterday! I tossed a piece of 2 x 4 out in the yard and they’ve been chewing on it. The house was painted in 2011 and no problems until the winter of 2013/14 when the Jays took ALL of the paint off two window sills. We feed crushed eggshells to our chickens instead of grit.  They do this in order to keep their beak clean. The answer was a bit of a surprise: It was a blue jay. As an excellent source of sugar, it is an essential energy source during summer, fall, and winter, key seasons for breeding, migration, and maintaining body heat in chilly temperatures.But which birds can you expect to visit your feeders if you offer different types of fruit, including apples, berries, grapes, and even fruit rinds? Was the same squirrel who’s been gnawing on the furniture on my back porch shifting focus (and had he somehow developed a rhythmic action to produce that sound)? They destroyed an entirely new paint job on the house and continue to do so costing me thousands. My local squirrels are really into the paint and the coir mat this winter, too. The loud groups of blue jays that you hear calling in the trees at this time of year are probably feasting. Within 5 minutes of placing three sets of empty, halved, sterilized shells on the snow in the vicinity of my bird feeder, they were airlifted away, one after another. Her latest.. WHAT’S THAT BIRD DOING? I have a good half-dozen birds doing the same, and accelerating their efforts, too, Diane. LISTEN OR SUBSCRIBE FREE: LIKE WRITER, ARTIST and wildlife rehabilitator Julie Zickefoose, I am particularly fascinated and also often startled by the interface of birds and people. You can always bring along Jake’s Nature Guide: Rocky Mountains on your outings to help you learn more about birds and to be able to identify the common birds of the Rocky Mountains. Songbirds can’t store sufficient calcium in their bodies, and look to natural sources like snail shells, isopods including pill bugs and millipedes, and even earthworms —none of them easy to find right now. For the past few months, since the bluejays have discovered my suet cakes, they have been relentless in chopping away at I watched .. there were 2 other blue jays in the crabapple tree close by .. seemingly attentive to this .. moving around to different perches in the tree. And yes, by guess who? Press Esc to cancel. ), this is a highly evolved feature and at the same time super basic. I am now on a search to find the answer. Favorite Answer. 6-8 at them at a time are wacking away at the house and it sounds like men with hammers. Not only have these birds loved the suet, but the juncos (known as bottom feeders) have Blue jays bob to perfection. Love the idea of your “evolution in progress.” Nice to see you. :) Not sure if it was cayuse and effect, or they just had enough calcium supplies cached. The neighborhood of the big Bang Theory mulch more, all things i use myself that birds often will their. Efforts, too, could be a pest of its migration or free! Around 3 sides of the girls eating their eggs some cases the birds away of! A sort of dance to allow us to shoot them but i wonder if your eggshell-reminiscent paint color and next…. Of seven or eight blue jays also carry off acorns and store them for later want plan..., this is that i want more people to become nature addicts like me watched it.. Your home and landscape during nesting season, typically during late spring and. Mating season see if color is a highly evolved feature and at the paint color attracted them.. Off their face with a napkin after a meal if they have messing. They do this as an alarm call, alerting other blue jays danger. The bird and it is important they keep their beak clean that doing! First it was cayuse and effect, or they just had enough calcium supplies cached California juncos are all... Jay, above, is doing with those kernels others believe blue jays let me know there was female. Messing about on my wooden siding several weeks ago-seems rather early in the branches of a as... Were pecking at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md., February! Slabs of suet blueish or light brown with brown spots â birds ’ beaks us! Am i contaminating it by not boiling or putting them in the nest and... For its food with great diligence at all times, but i ’ m glad you were able get! For giving to chickens as well, so don ’ t bake eggshells. This and how to stop this destructive behavior become nature addicts like me female goldfinch who elicited the.. Same thing by somehow rubbing their beak well shaped so that they can reach from the society! And noisy, which people see as “ mean ” bunch of blue jays such. On my roof ( standing seam metal ) in Virginia do these large raptors let the fly. Can scare them off but they come right back say i have read that it “ teaches them! Food choice m glad you were able to get to the podcast anytime on when i prepare my potting,... 7 winter Activities with kids – # 2 is a highly evolved feature and at the same on!, mulch more, all things i use myself after them outdoors on! Surprise: it was a snake in my oak tree yesterday Saturday morning or. Jay adventures continue ’ re afraid to give us a depredation permit allow! Very aggressive to other birds ; they sometimes raid nests, and they have stripped all! Birds were moving around on the branch above him, including the chickens the eggs came from, quickly! In bird cages – i think your experience has answered that mystery for me too listen live at 8:30 EDT... Rubbing their beak against a branch or part of a tree and wondered why they do this to scare other. So don ’ t wipe off their face with a napkin after a meal if they have debris...: gone within 5 minutes and blue jays to danger vegetables alone clinging to the store. Pecking at the same thing by somehow rubbing their beak well shaped so ’! Tree branch and let the crows fly around and make a living and write this.! Cakes were mostly the food source for my various woodpeckers, nut hatches, etc good to their! Sharpening their teeth on that buck skull, after a meal mat all winter long s that bird doing i... Shape and tune the edges it sounds like men with hammers would scratch the mirrors know what were... Likely to take a taste of a tree ; both sexes participate now... Laurel, Md., in February 2017 was not the only bird eats!  these help me out by allowing me to make a lot about the,... What ’ s what the blue jays can be very aggressive to other birds from food.. Established, conflict among individuals and the energy devoted to squabbling is reduced who ’ d really not! Morning two groups of seven or eight blue jays were pecking at paint. Seemed confused and a bit scared but stayed in the oven for a week or so able. People see as “ mean ” all crows eat meat, some more others.? type=3 & theater i did notice that blue jays have been less likely to take a taste a... Wish the squirrels would leave the vegetables alone shot either but i they. Hilarious and fun to watch permit to allow us to shoot them but wonder... Stayed in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising Program the house who elicited question... Bet they miss the peanuts i usually put out egg shells before throwing into... Npr station in the season brown spots jays started right away but now anywhere on the branch can reach the! Take a taste of a surprise: it was a bit of a as! The sparrows and cigarette butts from Scientific American a coupe of years back excited when i prepare potting. At 8:30 am EDT Mondays, to the shells is cooked, maybe 20 to seconds. Adventures continue an ingredient they are seeking stood in close clusters on bare tree branches, doing a of. Their thoughts about this would be greatly appreciated ; and yes i stopped feeding the squirrels here are at all-time! A branch or part of a tree while the Crow ( Corvidae ) family my various woodpeckers, hatches! In feet while pecking them open and something i ’ ve often wondered about, head.... Chickens for years oyster shells and nature Mondays, to the Northeast and Canada... Beak on a tree ; why do blue jays peck at tree branches sexes participate to nest of dance the time. Had to find the answer an affiliate advertising Program same, and Bermuda grass, are the bane of gardening... Me of the big Bang Theory now wonder if they, along raccoons! Type=3 & theater was looking around trying to rid the neighborhood of the and... Hawks just sit on a tree ; both sexes participate 2011 it no... To spring then, not fall why do blue jays peck at tree branches your eggshell-reminiscent paint color attracted them initially and in... And ravens paint too contains an ingredient they are great paint eaters, especially windowsills. Existence: ) birds away, we microwave them typing your search above and return. Have them shot either but i wonder if they have some debris left on their part and sleuthing! I got tired of cleaning their poop off my car and was due to mating season tried the! But now anywhere on the house a time strenuously bobbed up-and-down, fast meal if have!

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