Steller’s Jay With a Meal

WARNING – Photo below that some might find unpleasant!!!

Steller’s Jays are one of the easiest birds to identify in the West.  Their black head and crest with blue bodies are obvious.  This one is foraging in my backyard.  It might be a juvenile since its crest doesn’t look quite as big as most of the Steller’s Jays I see around here.

The Steller’s Jay found something to eat and then flew with it to this branch.  See how it is holding it down with its foot?  According to The National Audubon Society’s The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, they hold the food down while pounding on it with the tip of their bill.

Steller’s Jays don’t just eat plants though.  They are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat.  Below is a photo taken by my friend Jeff in his backyard.  A Steller’s Jay landed on this bird house that had House Sparrows inside.  It poked its beak inside and ripped this unfortunate chick out of the nest.

It obviously didn’t eat it, but the damage was done.  I’m not sure what is holding on to it, but this is certainly a sign that life for young animals can be very dangerous.

  1. Good post Mike. Nice shots of the Steller’s Jay.

    Birdhouses should have a predator guard on the entrance for exactly this reason. They make it much more difficult for a squirrel or predatory bird to reach into the nest and get the nestlings. They also keep larger birds from making the entrance hole larger. The easiest type of guard is easy to make by cutting a 3X3 inch block of wood out of the same material used to make the box, cut a hole in the center of it the size of the entrance hole, and screw it over the entrance hole.

    You can see what a simple one looks like here.

  2. Hey Mike…Just thought you’d appreciate the follow up on our unfortunate young sparrow from last summer. Just yesterday morning, I witnessed the new tennants in my bird house knock off the dangling carcass. They then spent the remainder of the morning flying in and out with new grasses, as they did a little spring cleaning and reclaimed the birdhouse for a new season.

    Larry…the birdhouse is nailed to the tree at about 25 feet from the ground. I didn’t have a tall enough ladder to make your suggested modifications.

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