More people are discovering the fun of attracting Blue Jays to their backyards. And one of the Jays favorite foods? Peanuts in a shell. Yes...Jays are boisterous and loud, but they are comical and entertaining as well. They provide a great service to the other birds acting as an early warning device by sounding the alarm when a predator shows up. At times they may sound a false alarm, allowing themselves easy access to the bird feeder. I often hear about their more dire acts, such as nest robbing. At times they can over power other birds. However, few people have actually seen it happen and it is more of an accusation passed down by word of mouth. This action is all part of the natural world birds live in. In reality, free roaming cats take more young birds from the nest than Blue Jays could ever accomplish.
So if you want some additional entertainment in your yard, put some peanuts in the shell on a platform feeder for the Blue Jays. You may need to add a squirrel baffle to prevent these daylight robbers from stealing them. But once the peanuts are offered, it won’t take long for the fun to begin. Watch the Jays as they pick a peanut and drop it, and repeat this process. They are testing for weight to determine which peanut has the most meat inside. You’ll learn to identify each Jay in their social order as the dominant Jay gets his peanut first right down the chain of command to the most subordinate. At times they will attempt to take two peanuts at once, which can be quite a challenge for them. Once a Jay acquires their bounty, they may fly to a branch, place the peanut between their toes, and pry it open. Other peanuts may be cached away for a snowy day. This has given the Blue Jay the nickname of “harvester bird’ as they plant dozens of trees from stashing nuts.
Give it a try! Whether you toss the peanuts on the ground or put them on a squirrel proof platform, you’ll enjoy the fun of attracting Blue Jays. You may want to ration the peanuts as the Jays will work until they are all gone. You may even see an occasional Red-bellied Woodpecker battle for his fair share. And don’t be surprised when the peanuts have been consumed or carried off, if the Jays scold you to replenish their favorite treat.