Friday, November 28, 2008

Chowing Down

Yesterday was Thanksgiving—the only national American holiday where we all have license to stuff ourselves until we explode. I did. Did you?

Interestingly the birds at the suet dough station were following suit. Especially the blue jays.

Blue jays are creatures of boom and bust. When they find food in abundance, they load up as much as they can in their large, expandable throat pouches, and take it away to cache. This is a hedge against leaner times ahead, or so the ornithologists tell us. In this way blue jays help keep our forests healthy. They cache thousands of acorns, beechnuts, and other edibles of their choosing. They only remember and re-find and consume a small number of these caches. The forgotten ones may germinate and become trees. In many cases these trees are a long distance away from where they might have grown had they not been transported by the cache-minded jays. This is how jays are unknowing healthy forest helpers.

Had my Wingscapes BirdCam been located at the far end of my parents' dining room table during yesterday's holiday feeding frenzy, I'm not sure the images it captured would have looked very different from the ones below. We staggered home in a food malaise about 8 pm and immediately began groaning and taking Alka Seltzer. My parents, Elsa and Bill, totally out-did themselves. Best gravy ever. Wicked good turkey and taters. Awesome rutabagas. Cherry-custard pie.... I put a hurtin' on it all.

Now I won't have to eat until sometime in mid-December. That's December 2025.

Anyway, check out the blue-crested suet-dough pig of Indigo Hill (the jay—not me).
Happy digesting!

The jay's main feeding mode is basically squat and gobble.

Checking around to see if anyone is watching him clean out the ENTIRE batch of dough.

The all-you-care-to-eat suet dough buffet is OPEN. Please use a clean bill on each return trip.

In this photo he's thinking: "I can get one more bill full in there I think!"

He makes his getaway with the precious gooey loot.

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At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great photos of a very shy species. I have never gotten a good picture of a jay at my feeders. They always see me coming!

Steve F.
bird dude

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

I love that cam and adore these shots. That bird knows what's good. Too funny!

I'm off food for a few days, too.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous NCmountainwoman said...

I especially love the first picture. That jay looks as big as a turkey. When I saw the huge amount of suet he crammed in his beak, I understood why.

Glad the humans got stuffed as well.

At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Julie Zickefoose said...

More BirdCam! More BirdCam!

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous OpposableChums said...

The BirdCam is a delight. Keep 'em coming!

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous BirdFeeders Unlimited said...

Great photos of this splendid jay. Keep up the good work

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Left Handed Birder said...

Gee my Colorado Blue Jays don't eat like that!

Well, yes.. I guess they really do.


I have you linked on my blog and if you find it worthy would love a link back.

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Rondeau Ric said...

Good to hear you up held the traditional pig our day.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Rondeau Ric said...

My posts wood make scents if i cud type

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Barbara said...

Great photos - yup, definitely looked like all of us on Thanksgiving!!!

I did not know how jays cache food but you just solved a mystery for me....I have been throwing peanuts in the shell outside beneath my feeders to keep the squirrels away from the seed. Seems to work, overall. EXCEPT, every time a Blue Jay comes by the peanuts seem to disappear and yet the jays don't seem much I know why!

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Renee Thompson said...

I'd be hopping on that fence, too, if I thought I could fill my beak with brown sugar. Oh, wait. That's not sugar, it's suet! Aaaaaaaghh, cak, cak, ptui...

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Pam Croom said...

I love the birdcam shots! I love watching the jays cache food, unfortunately my jays can't break open pecans and all their work is not usable for them. One summer a crow took delight in finding the jay's caches and rearranging them. When he grew bored with that he'd play chicken with the ducks.

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