Do you have the feeling you see more blue jays feeding in your yard during the winter than summer? If so, it is probably not your imagination. In fact, it is very likely you do see more blue jays in winter than summer.
This is because, for reasons biologists do not fully understand, some blue jays migrate while other remain homebodies throughout the year. In one study involving tracking the movements of over 100,000 blue jays living in the Northeast, researchers found 89 percent of the blue jays studied did not migrate. However, one of the remarkable things the biologists also learned was birds that migrate do not always do so every year. In truth, some stay home one year, migrate the next, and they ride out the winter at home the following year.
The biologists also discovered older birds are less likely to embark on an arduous migration than young blue jays.
Since untold numbers of migrating blue jays winter throughout Georgia, we are more apt to see them at our feeders at that time of year. In addition, when the migrants arrive they often form flock of anywhere from 15-50 birds. These birds will move about looking for food. If your feeders are located in a flock’s feeding territory, these winter visitors are likely to return to gorge themselves day after day.
Oddly, it has also been reported that blue jays will often feed almost exclusively at some feeders while totally ignoring feeders located close by in another yard.
Banding studies have revealed that blue jays are creatures of habit and will often return to the same neighborhood and feeders year after year.
I am certain my yard is in the feeding area of a flock of blue jays. While I have no idea how many are using my yard, every day I see many of them feeding on sunflower seeds as well as drinking water and bathing in my birdbaths.
I once heard Roger Tory Peterson say the blue jay was one of his favorite birds. Although some folks are not particularly fond of the blue jay, like our most renowned birder, I like them too. Do you welcome this large, handsome bird at your feeders? I hope so.