For the Love of Peanuts
For some time we have had Steller's Jays fly across our back yard. They are resident in the neighbourhood and we often see them at a large hedge on 44th Avenue, just the other side of Ladner Elementary School. Occasionally they would stop at our feeder and help themselves to a few sunflower seeds, but mostly they just ignored it. Last year I put a few peanuts out on the deck rail and immediately got the jays' attention. Ever since we have allowed the jays to entertain us with their enthusiasm for peanuts.
They will watch and wait for me to put the peanuts out. I think they even know our car; often when I drive home along 44th Avenue, park the car in our garage, and come upstairs to the kitchen I find a jay on the bird feeder bar, expectantly waiting. If not present when I put peanuts out they arrive within seconds after I leave the deck. If they are already there, they'll come as close as a metre away from me, but never take a nut out of hand.
Lately. I have clipped the peanuts onto strings hanging from overhead. This puzzled them at first and only one would attempt to pluck any off the strings. This one soon got the knack of jumping and flying at the selected peanut with head turned just so to successfully pull it off the string. For about a week it appeared that only one bird could do this as the rest contented themselves with the loose nuts on the deck rail, then others started catching on after observing. Now, most of the jays do it, some more expertly than others. The birds who are more adept at plucking peanuts off the strings may even ignore the easy pickings lying on the deck rail in preference for the challenges on the strings. Some even choose peanuts higher up the strings over the easy to reach ones at the ends. Now more jays than ever come to participate in our peanut challenge.