Making friends with blue jays

Yes, they are kind of noisy, but this is one of the things I love about them. They constantly let everyone know what is going on and when the Cooper’s hawk shows up, they bravely taunt him/her giving everyone a chance to dive for cover. They love it when I throw peanuts to them and have recently started bringing the young to the patio to indulge. Click on pictures to enlarge.

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

© Chris Taylor

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Celebrating backyard birds

Sitting in the backyard is so much better than television! Click on pictures to enlarge.

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And, don’t forget the mammals.

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Plentiful acorns

With the drought, there were very few acorns this time last year. I am happy to report quite a few in our neighbor’s trees this year. The blue jays are very happy right now. Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Celebrating bluejays

This amazing bird imitates a red-tailed hawk, waits a coupe of minutes, then sounds an alarm. This clears everyone out so he/she can have a clear shot at the feeder. Apparently, this is not unusual. Many bluejays are quite good at this. Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Bathing beauty

We have a neighborhood bluejay who likes to scare everyone with his/her red-tailed hawk call. Today, I heard the call outside my office window. There she/he was, bathing and screeching. Very cool bird! Click on pictures to enlarge.

 

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Need more snow

Really, we do not need more snow. 🙂 The weather and work have made it a bit tougher to get out to the usual places, but our feeders in the yard are hopping. I’m filling them up pretty much every day. Here are a few of the regulars. Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Portraits

One thing I’ve been learning photographing so many birds is patience is crucial. The longer I keep sudden movements to a minimum, the longer I get to observe and just hang out. I know I am anthropomorphizing, but it does seem like sometimes they are posing. 🙂 Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Kestrel (warning–graphic picture)

For the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing a kestrel in the park a couple of blocks from us. When we came home from the grocery store Saturday morning, he was sitting in a tree in the backyard eating a junco. In the world of raptors, the American kestrel seems like a wee one, not particularly scary, but that’s only true if one is not a small bird, rodent, insect, etc. There is  certainly a reason they are also called “sparrow hawks.” I know the life of a bird of prey is a hard one, particularly in the winter, but poor little junco! All the small birds in the yard were yelling at the kestrel. I could imagine him saying, “Hey, I’ve got to eat too.” The bluejays were dive-bombing him over and over, but he stayed until he finished his breakfast. What I found really interesting about this is how all the birds worked cooperatively to try and run him off. Bluejays are known for sometimes eating smaller birds, but they were quick to join the sparrows and juncos in the fight against the larger predator. Once again, I am in awe of the life and death struggles that take place around we humans that so many of us never seem to notice. I won’t post the particularly graphic pics (I think this one is quite enough). Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Bluejay defends.

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Another junco looks on.

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Snow days

We finally got our big snow. I know–it’s relative. We didn’t get nearly what others have. I never did hear what we ended up with, but my guess is less than a foot. It’s mighty cold with the wind blowing! An arctic blast is on the way. I’ve filled all the feeders and made some tasty vegan suet for the Carolina wrens. My thoughts are with them over the next few very cold days. Click on pictures to enlarge.

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