It was minus sixteen this morning (Monday, February 14). I was feeding the birds just after sunrise and the trees were popping and snapping as the water that collected in their cracks was expanding very loudly. Last night the deer didn’t come through to clean up the fallen seeds from the feeders, so the blue jays took advantage of the opportunity. They were working on those and carrying them off to a safe place for hiding. Yesterday I banded my 50th blue jay since the first of December. They keep coming in from some place and the others move south. The highest count I can get at any one time at the feeders is sixteen, but I know there are many more than that if they all came together.
I mentioned before how the jays fill their beaks with seeds and fly off with them to store somewhere, just in case I don’t feed them anymore. Their beaks are full of sunflower seeds or corn when I catch them in the potter traps. They are so full, in fact, that you can see it while I have them in hand and they can’t chirp (or bite) while their beaks are full. Most times, I can see the seeds and they let me band them, and measure a wing. They also usually let me check for age by looking for bars on the outside feathers of the wing before they go out the window to freedom. And they are still holding those seeds when they are released by the way. Blue jays are one of the most placid birds in hand while banding them. Very often they just lay still and watch what you are doing with their big black eyes. However, their feet are active and grab on to anything that touches them, like your fingers, a pencil, or the banding pliers…and they have a fairly good grip.