Baby Blue Jays!

Even though the baby Blue Jays I watched at Council Point Park were quite amusing, they did not give me the warm fuzzies like ducklings and goslings do. But they did give me a chuckle, a lot of photos and fodder for today’s post.

Perhaps calling them “babies” is a bit of a stretch. Actually they were fledglings, which, under the tutelage of Mama Blue Jay, were learning the art of stealing peanuts off the perimeter path, much to the squirrels’ chagrin.

Here in Michigan, and, I suspect, in most other states in the Union, as back-to-school time approaches, there is much controversy over in-seat schooling versus home schooling due to the pandemic. Well, sometimes the most-important lessons, including life lessons, are learned from your Mama and that was certainly the case on a very warm Saturday morning as I watched the interplay between a few fledgling Blue Jays and their Mama.

First, there was a kerfuffle

I meandered along the perimeter path, bemoaning the lack of squirrels once again, though I conceded that due to the extreme heat and humidity, perhaps my furry friends would be lounging along a tree branch as I’d often seen them do. Suddenly, a Fox squirrel appeared out of nowhere, likely alerted by a whiff of peanuts from my open bag and he slunk down the tree trunk to investigate. I tossed out some peanuts in anticipation of his/her arrival.

Soon, just a few feet away, I heard a flurry of activity in that same tree. I saw the branches moving and a flash of blue between the leaves. It is not unusual to see a Blue Jay or two staking out a good perch to study squirrel activity once peanuts are tossed down on the perimeter path.

The rustling noises in the tree continued – what in the world was going on?

Those are wily birds those Blue Jays. Unlike the more-subdued and very cautious Northern Cardinals, as mentioned, Jays love to snatch peanuts right from under a squirrel’s nose. It is amusing to see. They are always watching, waiting ….

Then a whole lot of squeaky noises were goin’ on

Suddenly a cacophony of squeaky noises erupted from that same tree and the sound filled the moist morning air. I didn’t recognize the noise and knew it was not a squirrel distress call, so Your Roving Reporter’s interest was piqued enough to investigate.

The call of a Blue Jay is intense and loud. It is not a pretty trilling sound like a songbird, but more of a screechy call. It has been referred to as a “jeer” or sounding like the word “thief” – if you’ve never heard their call, you can listen by clicking here. The “alarm call” is especially loud.

I staked out my own spot, near a tree, camera at the ready.

It finally became obvious to me, there were multiple birds in the tree – were they fighting? The odd-sounding squeaking noises continued. I was stymied, but then discovered it was several Blue Jays once the leaves parted enough for me to glimpse inside. It looked like one large Jay and at least two smaller ones. But, for my investigative efforts, and, while I was pondering this mystery, I was rewarded with a nasty look by Mama Blue Jay whose demeanor seemed to suggest I should not be questioning her parenting skills. 🙂

(Note: with Blue Jays, even experienced birders have a tough time distinguishing males from females, unless they’re side by side – the male is larger. I’m NOT an experienced birder, so I’m going to assume this was Mama, not Papa, sharing these prized parental skills.) Soon Mama swooped down again and swiped a peanut as if to flaunt her peanut-grabbing prowess and say “watch me … this is how it is done!”

Unfortunately, the tree cast a lot of shade on the path, so, in anticipation of more photo ops, I tossed down additional peanuts anyway, then quickly stepped aside once again and I looked to see if I could find a spot with a little more light, to no avail.

The treetop squeaks continued in fits and spurts, as did the wiggling of the tree’s leaves as the peanut-retrieving class was ready to begin.

So, were the students quick learners?

Suddenly the first youngster appeared on the pathway. I knew it was a juvenile as the bright and colorful markings that easily identify a Blue Jay were missing. The plumage was more gray than blue, the crest was not as prominent and it was much smaller than an adult.

Soon the youngster was joined by a sibling and they both paused near the peanuts, but hastily flew back up to the tree, causing me to step back even more paces in case I was scaring them.

A second fly-by-and-sit-down-and-ponder-peanuts resulted in a near collision. This isn’t the greatest photo, but here they tried to queue up, after they nearly bumped bodies, or noggins – peanuts were examined, but once again they returned to the tree, empty beaked.

The art of the deal (the trading-peanuts-for poses-deal that is).

So, did an exasperated Mama next scold the kids or coach them more on the art of stealing the squirrels’ peanuts knowing I’d be taking photos, so more peanuts would miraculously appear on the pathway? Believe me, Blue Jays are not bird brains. They are in the Corvidae family, (as are crows) and have exceptional intelligence.

Likely Mama took her youngsters under her wing and said “look and watch me carefully.”

She flew down again, grabbed a peanut with ease, then returned to the tree.

Soon, there was lots of activity on the path as two young Blue Jays zoomed down to the ground over and over again. Mama must’ve counseled them in bird speak, by saying “that girl, the sucker, just put out more peanuts, so you guys get your butts down there and grab ’em up like your Mama just did!”

Finally, the kids caught on

Meanwhile a few squirrels seized the opportunity as well and the nut supply was dwindling, so it was time for me to intervene with more peanuts so that this valuable peanut-stealing lesson could progress. They soon were adept at this food-gathering ritual, but alas, Mama and her youngsters tired of the peanut-retrieving game before I did, so I moved along when there was no sign of them on the path for about ten minutes. I glanced at my watch – it was the top of the hour, so I reckon the “How to Grab a Grub in Ten Seconds or Less” lesson was about to begin.

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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48 Responses to Baby Blue Jays!

  1. Michael says:

    How pretty are they. Ive heard of sports teams plenty but never actually seen one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, they are beautiful and smart birds Michael. It is funny to watch them blitz by a squirrel or eat alongside one just because they want a peanut. The Toronto Blue Jays made the news lately as Canada would not let them play in their home field and have U.S. ballplayers going to Canada, or them traveling to the U.S. for away games – can’t blame them for that. Canada has one of the lowest and enviable COVID-19 stats while the U.S. stats, as you know, are off the charts.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandra J says:

    I have never seen baby blues, 🙂 so cute. They learned how to get the food. 🙂 great post Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      They were so cute – they were not sleek like their parents are and still a little fluffy with their feathers. Once they got the hang of getting peanuts, they beat a path back and forth from path to treetop. I guess Mama Jay approved. 🙂 Glad you liked this post Sandra.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Delightful! What a fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jinjer says:

    Oh! Oh! Oh! I wish I would see some baby Blue Jays! I see plenty of adults but no babies. Didn’t know they like a peanut. I’ll buy them some next time I go grocery shopping. Love your pictures and descriptions of what was happening.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Jinjer – this is the first time I’ve ever seen baby Blue Jays and I am at this Park a lot and have been going there since 2013. They were still a little floofy looking with their feathers … usually Jays are so sleek and wily … these little guys were timid and well … just plain cute. They love peanuts in the shell and will swoop down to get them from the path. I had lots of Cardinals swooping down or following behind me (they’re more timid than Jays), but this Park was closed for the month of May due to COVID-19 and when it re-opened, the Cardinals are no longer around which is a real shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Very cute birds.Made me smile

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Ellie – sweet little Blue Jays, not aggressive and loud like their parents and on the way to becoming beauties like their parents once they get all their blue plumage in place.

      Like

  6. We have a lot of blue jays here. People think of them as nuisance birds but I think they are pretty. There is enough food for all the birds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda………………………………..you are such a good story teller…………………………..you keep me interested all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Ann Marie! I am glad you enjoyed the Blue Jays story and the other posts as well.
      As to today’s. They were fun to watch as they practiced being like their Mama. 🙂

      Like

  8. Laurie says:

    Those baby blue jays certainly did give you your money’s worth for some entertainment. I have never tried to tell the difference between male and female blue jays. I do know that they stay in families for a long time. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers, and fathers all stick pretty close together. Great photos of the peanut stealers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, they were cute and gave me some entertainment since the squirrels pretty much were gone from the pathway. The Blue Jays are clever and don’t forget a face, especially when that face belongs to someone toting peanuts. 🙂

      Like

  9. They are adorable Linda. I have an adult blue jay that grabs sunflower seeds from out feeder then goes on our roof to peck them open! I am so afraid he is going to ruin our shingles and there is nothing I can do about it (We won’t stop feeding the birds….lol).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked these cute feathered babies Diane. They were a scream to watch. I can see your point and I would suggest you post a note on the feeder that says “I am kind enough to give you sunflower seeds which you enjoy, but … if I have to buy shingles because you insist on opening the seeds with that lethal-looking beak and drilling into my shingles, that expense will cut into my sunflower seed budget. It’s your choice. Thank you.” 🙂

      Like

  10. Rebecca says:

    I love nature’s dramas. Fun story and oh-so-cute Blue Jay young ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked the story Rebecca. They sure were cute – more fuzzy-looking than sleek and as they gained confidence, they were strutting around with a little bit of attitude like adult Blue Jays. Made me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Cute little guy! We only have Stellar’s out here. Your becoming a great birder! Watching “The Big Year”. They filmed some of that in Tofino.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ruthsoaper says:

    How delightful, Linda! I don’t know if baby blue jays were on your bird bucket list but you should add them so you can cross them off. A couple weeks ago we saw a baby (young) cardinal eating chicken scratch in our driveway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Ruth – I never thought to add baby blue jays to my bucket list – maybe I should add and swap them for hummingbirds since I am not doing so well in that category! They were cute and by the time they’d gobbled up some of those peanuts, they had a little swagger going too. 🙂 I’ve never seen a young cardinal and that is surprising because here at the house a pair of cardinals have nested in a big barberry bush for years. Never have seen their offspring so I am guessing it is not the original pair anymore, but many generations later of them. Lucky you to see those babies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruthsoaper says:

        Don’t give up on the hummers. The show up out of the blue and are usually gone as quickly as they show up, unless there is some sweet nectar around. Yesterday my husband called me from the farm to tell me there was one in the prayer garden enjoying the verbenas. We have had cardinals at the house and the farm for several years but this is the first time we have seen a young one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I had a fun experience years ago with a female cardinal. Every night I’d come home from work and she flew out of the barberry bushes where they’ve nested for many years, and she flew down to the sidewalk to see me. The barberry bush was at the side of the house near the backyard. So we had a ritual and I went into the house and dropped off my tote bag I took on the bus and got a small Dixie cup of safflower seeds. I read that squirrels don’t like them but cardinals do – they have no shell. So I took the cup out and dumped it onto the patio cement and she hopped over to eat it … this was every single night Ruth. Amazing. She’d see me coming up the sidewalk. I hope you’re right about the hummers … I saw the one the first time and rushed out and got the two small feeders. My next-door neighbor had shepherd’s hooks all around the house with large hummer feeders and she constantly had hummers. I suspect it’s because I don’t have flowers with nectar and that’s why unless there is hummer activity during the day when I am in the house.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Joni says:

    What sweeties they are…..and quick learners…..priceless photos again Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. i’ve never seen baby blues but they are adorable!!! such a fun post, thank you for sharing💞💞

    Follow @everythingtips for tips and recommendations if interested! It would mean a lot to me!🥺🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed this post Everythingtips – (I am sorry it went to SPAM for some reason.) I have seen many Blue Jays at Council Point Park where I walk every week day, but never the youngsters. They sure were animated and a delight to watch and they caught on quickly how to scam peanuts from the squirrels.

      Liked by 1 person

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