The Cache is Up . . .

God gives every bird it’s food, but he doesn’t throw it into it’s nest. ~ J.G. Holland

Did you know that Blue Jays cache their food? When food supplies are abundant (ie: I keep my feeders full of seeds), Blue Jays fill up their mouths/throats and carry the seeds away to cache them for another day. They hide food all over the forest (on the ground, in cracks in the trees, under the bark of trees .. everywhere). A lot of animals stash food (I am thinking about how big and puffy a chipmunks cheeks can get in the Fall when he is filling up his larder). What is amazing about the Blue Jay is that they don’t have a home to stash it in like the chipmunks. Instead, Blue Jays hide it everywhere and can remember where each cache is. Even after the leaves fall, it snows and the terrain looks completely different, they still remember where their hidden stashes of food are.

In the winter, there are not many signs of life out there, that is why I feed the birds. Full feeders bring life to my yard. During Thanksgiving vacation, I stayed home and got great pleasure out of watching the birds at the feeders and hearing their familiar calls in the otherwise silent woods. I was amazed one morning during vacation to see a Blue Jay down on the ground, under the snow at the base of a tree outside my window (far from the feeders). As I watched him, snow flew and eventually he poked his head out of the deep snow. I continued to watch him and discovered that he was visiting my feeder and then depositing the seeds under the snow at the base of this tree. I knew Blue Jays did this, I just did not think they would put them purposefully down deep in the snow. He worked most of the day stealing seeds until all of my birds and squirrels had emptied the feeders for the day.

Unfortunately for my neighborhood birds, I have been a neglectful bird feeder this past week. My excuse … it was always dark when I was home (earlier than normal morning drives to work because the roads were very bad and longer work days because there is so much to do) … I never saw the sun or birds this week so, I basically forgot about filling the feeders. I don’t worry about the birds too much as experts have told me many times, my seeds are just a handy supplement for the birds … they can make it through the winter without me.

It is finally the weekend, so this morning I got to see some daylight hours at home and the results of having empty feeders for many days. The loud squawking began about 8:30 am signaling the fact that “the cache (gig) was up”. About six Blue Jays were having a little rumble outside my window with raised crests and lots of scolding. Seems the secret stash of food by the tree was found by another detective type Blue Jay who spread the word of the found the stockpile. Since the feeders were empty for a week, I am guessing that the Blue Jay who had diligently filled up a little personal stash of food last week got hungry this morning and inadvertently gave away his secret hiding spot and now several of his “friends” wanted a share of his booty. It was a fun and interesting event to start my day with.

FYI … During the rumble there was no blood spilled and I did not see any feathers fly, either. Each Blue Jay just raised its blue crest, squawked a lot and flew at the others to get its turn to dive down into the snow to poke its beak into the stash of food. I filled my feeders to see if one of them would rebuild the stash today … they visited the feeders, but none of them visited the old stashing spot at the bottom of the tree. I am sure they have much better, more secret spots to store food for when I once again forget to fill my feeders for a few days.

If you want to learn about Blue Jays, see some very pretty blue pictures, watch videos of Blue Jays living in the woods, or hear their squawking visit: All About Birds (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)
I am still patiently waiting to take a perfect picture of a Blue Jay. They are not people birds, never sit in one place for very long and I am lacking in bright sunshine to show off their blue plumage. For now, this is the best shot I have.

~ by bearyweather on December 5, 2010.

5 Responses to “The Cache is Up . . .”

  1. I never knew that about blue jays. I always learn something when I visit your blog. Thank you! 🙂

    I’ve been trying to get a decent photo of the blue jays, too. As you wrote, it requires patience.

    • Glad to know that I have a fellow blue jay hunter this winter and it is not just me having a difficult time getting a great picture. Best of luck on your hunt … I look forward to seeing your picture when you find it.

  2. I never knew that! love both the pics. I’ve always thought blue jay and cardinals to be beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I could sit and watch wildlife for hours…I am sure they were quite entertaining!

  3. Love the blue jay shot! Thanks, bearyweather. I am looking forward to some closer shots of birds this winter. (although gloves are a necessity.)

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