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My beautiful nemesis: Intelligent Blue Jays

July 6, 2009

Religiously feeding birds on the weekends has produced rewarding results: my weekend getaway went from no birds to a wide variety of finches, cardinals, orioles, red-winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, grossbeaks and more.

But the feeder has attracted a beautiful nemesis, the aggressive blue jay. They are spectacular to look at, but they quickly take over the bird feeder, chasing all the other birds away and then return in greater numbers. If that isn’t annoying enough, they also yelp and whine with one another, like a bunch of bratty kids (they probably are).

My brother-in-law offered to shoot them (signaling the offer with a trigger finger so my kids wouldn’t hear). I quickly said no. But what I did do was make a sling-shot, like ones we used to make as kids. It is powerful enough to get decent velocity, but unlikely to do much damage to seriously injure a bird (unless shot with asserted force).

After making the sling-shot, I practiced a bit and developed some decent aim consistency. I collected an arsenol of rocks and sat on the porch, waiting for the whining blue jays to arrive.

I didn’t have to wait long. They came almost immediately, and I fired away in short order. I only needed to shoot near to a blue jay to scare it away. It worked brilliantly! An best of all, the more desirable smaller birds remained, unphased, after each shot.

What began as an excellently brilliant plan evolved into something else though. The blue jays started to know me. They watched me from a distance. They flew to nearby trees and positioned themselves on the opposite side of tree trunks. A mere step inside the house to refill my coffee resulted in a blue jay frenzy at the feeder. They were watching me just as I was watching them. It even seemed to be that they knew when I was holding the sling-shot and when I wasn’t.

So, the game became a bit of a sport, perhaps both for me and the blue jays. Peace at the bird feeder for the other birds was limited to my cocked sling-shot.

Next plan of attack: new bird feeder design.

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