Monday, February 18, 2019

HAMSTERS WITH WINGS


As some of you know, I do enjoy feeding and watching birds. It is a $120 a month guilty pleasure. Yea, I have a lot of birds stop by.  I do enjoy watching the different personalities displayed by the hungry and cold little buggers. Each breed seems to have its own tendencies.

Quick update on my obese, bully, female Cardinal that I wrote about earlier.  Someone must have given her an attitude adjustment.  She disappeared for about a week and when she returned, she almost looked anorexic and someone had rearranged her feathers. There was about an inch and a half or so of grey feathers poking straight out near her tail. She has also become meek and subservient. Karma??

Anyway, I have become fascinated with the behavior of Blue Jays.  I have one that flies in, grabs one sunflower seed and flies off to eat it. I'm fine with that.  But then there are two Jays that amaze me.

They sit in the feeder and pick up seed after seed and cram them into their mouths.  At first I thought they were swallowing them hulls and all till Google came to my rescue.

Blue Jays have a crop of sorts that they can cram full of food.  Very much like hamsters with their flexible pouches.  Pretty sure that constitutes hoarding for both species. They then fly off to hide the treasures.

I saw one Jay bury his in the ground and I just hope he remembers where it is or I will have a big patch of Sunflowers come Spring.  Well things could be worse. They could be into cactus seeds.

Blue jay
Google image from Quad City Times showing swollen crop.
There is a story of one bird filling his pouch with 100 seeds.  My two usually stop at 7 or 8.

While I have all the usual winter guests at my feeders, I only have 3 Blue Jays . Thankfully one is well behaved or else I would have to become a greeter at Walmart to support them.

Do you have an activity that perhaps cost more than it should but that you enjoy and just won't give up?

48 comments :

  1. I never knew blue jays would fill their crops full of seeds and store them elsewhere.

    I always watch the birds and squirrels at my neighbor's bird feeders. Not too many blue jays come to her feeder, but they are in the neighborhood. They serve as lookouts for hawks and owls and warn birds in our neighborhood by ganging up on hawks and jaying at them. I always know when there is a hawk around because the jays tattle on them, and all of the other birds disappear to hide. The jays seem pretty brave to stay around to show and tell where a hawk is.

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    1. Susie,
      That is great to know. I was unaware they were homeland security. That is so cool.

      Delete
  2. Not a fan of the bird so I do not know much about them. Hummingbirds are the only ones I tolerate and I do have feeders for them. I love though that you know their habits and one from another.

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    1. Peggy,
      Hummers are fun to watch. They sure are feisty little rascles.

      Delete
  3. I fed the birds in our old apartment, and the mess made my husband act if I might not do the feeding in our new place. At first I missed them all, but I don't miss the squirrels or greedy English sparrows. My neighbors all feed the birds, so I still get to see them plenty. I didn't know that about jays either. :-)

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    1. Djan,
      Well he was right, they really are messy. I keep a leaf blower plugged in and a hose handy. I think I am the only one who doesn't have the first squirrel and I love to watch them. They are so smart and athletic.

      Delete
  4. I don't put seed down for ground feeders anymore because I found a stash of seeds in my basement thanks to a mouse or two. But I still put out seed cakes. This time of the year the Blue Jays have figured out how to feed off the cakes. I let them take a few seeds then I bang on the window so the little birds can come in. The seed in near where my dog goes outside and chickadees don't care that he's just a few feet away. Others will wait in the trees for him to go back inside.

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    1. Jean,
      Ha , I do the window banging also. I have to watch that Callie doesn't eat the seed. I'll check into some seed cakes. Sounds a bit less messy.

      Delete
  5. Mike was a great lover of birds and always had a number of bird feeders about. He also took care of hosing down the deck every day or two. I didn't care to keep up either activity myself. Now there are so many bears wandering around my old neighborhood everyone is warned not to put out bird feeders.
    I do have hobbies that help keep the crafting and art supply sellers in good financial shape -- hobbies that don't attract bears and raccoons.

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    1. Olga,
      Cleaning up can be a full time job. Wow, never thought about bears. They have been in my area in years past. Hum.
      You are right, crafting does keep the animals at bay.

      Delete
  6. I stopped putting out birdseed when we were still living in Grass Valley. The bears kept knocking the feeders down and making off with all the food. So enough was enough. I still feed the hummingbirds here. Cute little territorial birds they are! Our one bad habit is a glass of organic wine with dinner every night. Well worth the price!

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    1. robin,
      Hum, you had bears also? Hummers are such fun to watch. They sure waste energy fighting over position. Kind of like our politicians. Keep that organic wine on the menu. Sounds perfect.

      Delete
  7. Sweet Patti you probably knew when you posted this that I was going to love it. You know how much I love the costly fun of feeding the birds. I think I only have 2 bluejays that is the most I have seen so far this winter. I am glad the cardinal seems to have made an attitude adjustment and hopefully the few ruffled feathers is all she suffered. Hugs

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    1. Maggie,
      I know you would like it. Wish I could take great pictures like you do. I have to rely on Google.
      She seems positively genial now.

      Delete
  8. I do enjoy watching the birds in the garden but haven't put a feeder out this year as the squirrels do their utmost to destroy it.

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    1. Fun60
      I know most people resent squirrels. I haven't had one here in 15 years. And here I would love to watch those smart little athletes. I use to put out food just for them to keep them out of the bird feeders.

      Delete
  9. Very pretty and intellegent birds, but they are not very nice, especially around the feeders.

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    1. joeh,
      You are so right. They totally own the area when they come in to feed.

      Delete
  10. I bet you do have a crop of sunflowers this year! I didn't know that jays had this ability. I did have a blue jay in the yard last year, but he didn't stick around.

    Expensive hobby for me would be knitting/crocheting. I'm in the process of decluttering and part of that is using up the stash I've accumulated over the years. It will take awhile and I'll probably pick up more in meantime!

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    1. Eileen,
      Perhaps the mice will dig up what the Jays leave behind.
      At least you get a finished product when you complete a project. I just have shells everywhere but I do have entertainment.

      Delete
  11. We can't feed birds because of the wild things the seeds draw. My outdoor activities are pretty costly - especially the downhill ski pass. I just can't give it up quite yet. I wonder what happened to that cardinal? (A little taste of her own medicine?)

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  12. Barb,
    I do envy you your ability to step out the door and ski.
    I think another bird--perhaps a Jay or another Cardinal, worked her over. She is quite agreeable now.

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  13. You captured my favorite birds on film.

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    1. Susan,
      Well I borrowed the image from Google but they really are beautiful birds.

      Delete
  14. I'm a quilter and I don't want to think how much I've spent on fabric in the last several decades. Then I taught myself to knit socks and now I spend way too much on sock yarn. At least I have something to show for it, I guess. I love feeding the birds, also.

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    1. Snickelfritz,
      You do end up with a product you can use or give as gifts. The birds only provide moments of entertainment for me and my cat.

      Delete
  15. That's a lot of bird seed! We feed birds, but don't have that many visitors. We used to spent an lot on plants for the garden, and on collections from antique stores, but we are no longer adding much to the garden or our collections.

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    1. Linda,
      It is, I think I am the only one in the neighborhood that feeds. Have at least 50 visitors daily.
      Your plants give you pleasure almost year round. A better investment.

      Delete
  16. I don't feed the birds around here. We have magpies, large Cockatoos and smaller parrots, the rainbow lorikeets. Also wattle birds and small sparrows with an occasional willy-wagtail thrown into the mix, but they are rare. They all seem quite well able to fend for themselves. There are a couple of crows too, or maybe they are ravens.

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    1. River,
      The name willy-wagtails hooked me and I had to look them up. They look like a larger version of our Juncos which is a favorite of mine.

      Delete
  17. I will have to watch the Blue Jays more. I can still see my dad glaring at them through the kitchen window but how he adored the cardinals. I need to watch them myself. I just love going into health food grocery stores. Almost always overpriced but I generally enjoy all that I find in there. It is not how I shop every day though.

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    1. Sue,
      Jays are quite pretty but a bit bossy and I understand your Dad giving them the stink eye. I wish we had a health food grocery store here.

      Delete
  18. We still like to visit thrift stores. There once was a fleet of antique store, but now there is only one. We have begun getting rid of things rather than add to our collections.

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    1. Mage,
      That is the problem with thrift stores. You do come home with stuff that will someday grace your own yard sale.

      Delete
  19. We used to have blue jays in Illinois and then they disappeared when we got hit with West Nile disease. We lost all our crows and blue jays. I had no idea they could hoard food that way. I know they can be quite aggressive. Our neighbor used to wear a helmet when she went to her garden because she sometimes got dive-bombed by the jays.

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    1. Kay,
      That is so sad. I wonder if they will try to reintroduce them some day. I have heard of those attacks.

      Delete
  20. We were going along just fine with our feeders being visited by polite birds for about 4 months and wham...these blackbirds have found them and are rude and messy, wasting bunch of seed. I will have to get a job just to keep the feeders fed!

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    1. Nawm,
      Don't you hate it when a few spoil it for the rest?

      Delete
  21. Dear Patti, I really don't have such an activity, but my brother and his wife, like you, feed birds and provide a water fountain in which the water is kept warm during the winter.

    I suspect that birds from miles around have told their buddies about my brother and sister-in-law's backyard. Recently they had 21 cardinals there besides the other birds. I asked and they were willing to tell me that they spend about $200 a month during the winter to feed them.

    My brother's description of the daily visit by cardinals reminded me of a book I listen to on tape during the holidays. It's by Fannie Flagg: "A Redbird Christmas." If you haven't read it, Patti, I know you would really enjoy it! Peace.

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    1. Dee,
      Love Fannie Flagg and I have read that book. Last year I had that many Cardinals but this year is more of a varied group. Bird Seed isn't cheap.

      Delete
  22. I am very disappointed in my bird traffic at this house. I have seen a couple of jays and heard some other scatter when they hear the back door open. I used to have a birds-eye view of the feeders in my old house but there is not really a good location here. I moved them around several times since I moved here and have had the best results hanging from the pecan tree. Oh well, I'll take what I can get with the winged visitors.

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    1. Barbara,
      I can see why they like the pecan tree. The canopy would protect them from predators. Glad you keep trying.

      Delete
  23. I had bird feeders for several years and then the squirrels found them — ultimately they destroyed them all— bird seed in a pile on the ground. I finally bought a couple metal feeders that I don’t think the squirrels can destroy but haven’t gotten around to putting them up. Haven’t put out my hummingbird feeders for a while either, instead allowing them to feed only on Bird of Paradise blooms outside my living room window. Didn’t put seed out for finches either. My birds are going back to nature looks like —at least for now.

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    1. Joared,
      I know most people hate the squirrels but I really wish I had some. I use to set up a separate feeder for them in Florida and loved watching their antics. They are great atheletes.

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    2. Meant to ask — do you really spend $120 a month on bird seed or is tthere a decimal missing — s12 ? What kind of bird feed to you use, or how many feeders do you have?

      Delete
    3. Joared,
      Sadly that figure is correct. I feed two types of seed. A general all purpose plus sunflower seeds. I have two large feeders plus ground feeders. I have tons of birds and I guess it is because I have set up an all you can eat buffet system. When it is nice out, I let them fend for themselves. Pretty sure some are repeat birds from last year.

      Delete
  24. My expensive pleasure has been keeping Samson alive and groomed. Right now he's healthier than he's been in years, which brings me so much happiness. Dirtier too with all the rain and snow, turning everything to mud. I loved reading about your birds. I don't feed any here, I thought I might, but, reading this, I'm not sure I could afford it.

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    1. Inger,
      With his long hair I am sure he tracks in the mud but he sure is worth it isn't he?
      You can feed much cheaper than I do. Just don't set out an all you can eat banquet.

      Delete

Due to massive abuse I will be using comment moderation for a while.