Western Scrub Jays Provide Enjoyment at Home

The hoarse squeak has started again from under the bush outside my bedroom window. A pair of juvenile Western Scrub Jays are hunkered down under the protective screen of foliage. The pair made their presence known a few week ago and rarely stray from ‘their’ spot. The location has been the safe haven for juvenile jays each summer for a number of years.

While scrub-jays visit my yard year-round to get their daily ration of peanuts, the yard is quite during the month of April. The pair nest further down the street and while the male brings his mate food, he stays close to the nest while she incubates. They are protective parents and while they seek food near the nest, they care careful not to draw attention to it.

While they normally only have one brood a year, this must be a second brood as I had a pair of juveniles under the bush a month ago.

During the winter, they get their peanuts – a handful a day – from the peanut feeder.
The first day I hung it up, I stuffed it with peanuts thinking that it would last a week. Within an hour, it had been emptied and the peanuts cached around the yard.

When the weather is nice, I throw a handful out of my sunroom door at breakfast time and leave the door open so I can watch them retrieve their peanuts.
My trail of peanuts includes at least one inside. Even though they retrieve peanuts each day, their routine is the same. One will hop to the door-jam,

Jay making sure the White-winged Dove does not get its peanut.

Jay making sure the White-winged Dove does not get its peanut.

then do a side-step jump to the peanut.
side-stepping to the peanut

side-stepping to the peanut

Sometimes it will stop and look up as if to thank me,
and other days it flees quickly with the prize.

Today I go outside to check on the juveniles. One of the parents is standing guard at the top of the tree in front yard.
I throw a couple of peanuts on the path. The juveniles hop to the edge of the bush and look at them, but don’t seem to know what to do, so retreat to their hiding place. I talk gently to them as I approach the shrub and one peeks out at me. I can see the white edges of its gape, still visible event though it has left the nest.

juvenile hiding in bush

juvenile hiding in bush

The parent arrives and quickly grabs each peanut, hops to a nearby spot and pokes it into the mulch to cache. Even though the youngster was squealing for food, the parent must feel that it had enough for one morning and the extra food needed to be saved.

Western Scrub Jays can live for 15 to 20 years, so I hope mine will provide me many more years of enjoyment.


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