Birdshot and backlashes

by Bob Cary

The first thing a person needs to know about feeding wildlife is to never let them know what you are up to. Wild birds and animals are very independent and do not like being coerced.<BR><BR> Thus it was several weeks ago when we built our Blue Jay feeder. We announced to all and sundry that it was deer feeder. The fact is, it looks like a deer feeder. That is, it consists of a V-shaped wooden trough five feet long, sitting on legs three feet above the ground. Indeed, it looks a lot like the deer feeders other north country folks have in their backyards.<BR><BR>Anyway, the components were carefully sawed and nailed together. Then the feeder was placed where a deer trail passes near the backyard and filled with shelled corn. Anyone who knows anything about deer is aware that they like whole corn. Most song birds prefer sunflower seeds. But Blue Jays like corn.<BR><BR>The Blue Jay feeder was not up 30 minutes and it was full of blue, white and black Blue Jays all screaming “Thief! Thief!” at the tops of their lungs. One thing about Blue Jays: they are the biggest thieves in the woods, but always yell at everyone else.<BR><BR>\So here they came, from four to eight Blue Jays at a time to steal the corn out of what they thought was a deer feeder. The Jays knew it was a deer feeder because we said so. Out loud and outdoors where they could hear.<BR><BR>Even my wife was fooled. “How come there are no deer in the deer feeder?” she asked.<BR><BR>“Because it isn’t a deer feeder,” I whispered. “It’s a Blue Jay feeder. Obviously, if I said it was a Blue Jay feeder, only deer would show up. Also, only Blue Jays show up because they are the only song birds which can crack a kernel of whole corn. Well, ravens can do it, but ravens don’t normally visit Blue Jay feeders, particularly ones close to houses.”<BR><BR>Now you would think that with their own feeder full of corn, Blue Jays would be celebrating this season of peace on earth, good will toward all. But, of course, they don’t. They argue and fight. It doesn’t make any difference that there is plenty of corn and lots of room at the feeder. They still fight. The bigger and meaner ones chase the smaller and meeker ones away.<BR><BR>In a way, they are like some people. They are just not going to get along and share no matter how good things are and how much everyone has to eat. They are just going to argue and fight. <BR><BR>We only have one concern: what if the deer find the Blue Jay feeder and decide to eat all the corn? This would surely put the Jays into a tizzy. At least it would give some credibility to their piercing cries of “Thief! Thief!”<BR><BR>(In all probability, some readers will call in asking how you tell a deer feeder from a Blue Jay feeder if they both have the same dimensions and both are filled with corn. Frankly, the only difference is the designation. If you say it’s a Blue Jay feeder, it is. If you say it’s a deer feeder, it is. Only don’t say it out loud where the deer or Blue Jays can hear you, or it won’t work. We know ours is a Blue Jay feeder because that’s what’s feeding there. That’s why we call it a deer feeder.)