Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Those #*%@ Blue Jays!

It's like something out of Hitchcock's "The Birds." We've been invaded by blue jays. We've never seen so many blue jays. They are swarming the area in huge flocks, I tell ya, flocks. Even when we were hiking yesterday (about 11-12 miles from here) we saw scads of them.

Not to say I have anything against blue jays per se. You have to admire their joie de vivre and colorful visage. However, as a preamble to this sad tale I'm about to relate (cue in lilting, bucolic music), . . .

For the first time our little homestead seems to be blessed with what looks to be a wonderful apple crop.

Not only are the apples healthy and good-sized . . .

. . . but it looks as if we might stand a chance of actually getting some to mature this year. (None of the above three pictures were enhanced. That's just the way they came out of the camera. Gorgeous, huh?)

(Now cue music from "Jaws.") But this is what the blue jays are doing to the apples.

After trying several other methods of keeping those golldarn birds away from the apples, yesterday we resorted to this.

Ask me how easy it was to get the netting up and over this tree. We don't have enough netting to cover all the trees completely (see pathetically protected tree in background) but we did what we could to (hopefully) safeguard the trees with the most apples on them.

By the bye, what's hubby doing wandering among the trees this morning with a shovel in hand? Why, he's on Poop Patrol, of course. Yessir, it's a glamorous life living on the homestead. If you're not straining your garters trying to install netting over fruit trees while being dive bombed by raucous blue jays, you're shoveling . . . uh, um, excrement from one animal or another.

But rest assured, we wouldn't trade it for anything.


  1. I was wondering where our Blue Jays went...guess it was to Minnesota! That is such a shame - those apples look amazing. Dang birds. I am going to start a collection of Mama Pea-isms - and my favorite so far is "straining your garters"! I'd like to try and fit that into a conversation.

  2. Susan - You can come fetch your wayward blue jays anytime now. :o)

    "Straining your garters" was a favorite saying of my grandpa's. When someone was upset, he'd try to calm them down by saying, "Now don't go straining your garters!" If I recall correctly, this was said most of the time to my grandma!

    You're probably too young to even remember seeing them but women used to wear garter belts with strips of elastic coming down from them. At the end of the elastic were little clamps that fastened on to the top of nylon hose to hold them up. Come to think of it, I guess those contraptions are still around, arent' they? But the ones I'm remembering were strictly utilitarian . . . not the sexy, black thingies you see on rock stars!

  3. Gosh them sure are pretty apples! We'll keep the fingers crossed that the nets work. I don't suppose that soap in a nylon or hair clippings would work for birds as it does deer??? Just a thought.

    Don't shave your head and then come after me...just thinkin' out loud...

  4. I am sure that your jay swarm means something. The animals always seem to know something before we do, for example they know your apples are good:) I hope it is not predicting a horrible weather year or something like that. Anything in your local folklore? Blue jays just don't travel in packs like that. Hummmm.

  5. Apple Pie Gal - Although we have successfully used soap and/or hair to keep away deer, I don't think the trick would impress the jays.

    (WHAT?? It has to be your OWN hair to work?? Hahaha.)

    jane - We've been wondering the same thing . . . regarding what do all these blue jays mean?? It's so weird to see whole big flocks of them flying around.

  6. How do you get your apples to look so good?! Mine have this black stuff all over the skins. Do you spray yours at all?

  7. Kaytee - We grow all our veggies and fruits using only organic methods so don't spray the apple trees with anything but biodynamic mixtures. The funny thing is hubby has taken pains for years to conscientiously apply the biodynamic sprays on our fruit trees every year . . . until this year. And wouldn't ya know it, these are the best apples we've had. But I do think it had a lot to do with having had a much warmer than usual growing season rather than anything else.

  8. oh my GOSH that's terrible! They are so pretty, it figures something had to happen I guess. Is the netting helping so far? That is strange to see so many, they are so territorial I would figure they would be too busy squawking at each other to eat the apples! I hope you able to salvage some.

  9. I've noticed jays moving into our area, too, but so far I haven't seen any crop damage from them -- our chickens actually run them off!

  10. Erin - Yup, the netting is definitely helping on the trees where we were able to cover most of the apples. Others that are still vulnerable are getting pecked. Drat. I have a feeling that we will be ordering more netting to have one hand for next season. Otherwise, we just gonna keep losing the crop.

    I keep wondering if the jays are gathering for migration, but they stay around here in the winter and I've never seen them in the huge flocks like now.

    JoyceP - Welcome and thanks for commenting because now I've found your blog! A favor to ask: Would you please UPS us one of your chickens so she can teach our dumb-clucks how to scare off the blue jays?

  11. Erin - Can you tell I'm tired tonight? Please excuse the two typing errors in my first paragraph to you. And no, haven't had a drop of alcohol. Maybe I should.

  12. They have been horrible here in NH too, like they had a breeding frenzy. And they are not nice birds, pretty yes, nice no.

    Hope you can save some of the apples for yummy pies!

  13. Hey! I've got a bunch of anti-bird netting in the garage! Not as fine a mesh / weave as this, but it will help!!!


  14. Stephanie - You have scads of them, too? Hmmmm, now this is getting weird. Just what is going on?

    Yes, I do hope I get some apple yet for pies and I was wanting to put up a bunch of applesauce also. Keep your fingers crossed.

    Chicken Mama - You do??! Well, hurry home and dig it out for us. It will be much welcomed!!

  15. Well, I was thinking "netting" but it seems that you've already got that covered. Hopefully that saves most of your apples. They do look awesome!!

    I know most people think Blue Jays are annoying, but I do like them. We have Stellars Jays, the western counterpart to Blue Jays. While they squawk a lot and steal dog food from bowls, I'm happy to hear them because it always means that Autumn is around the corner.


  16. Conny - I've never minded the blue jays a bit . . . until this year. Our daughter just informed us that she has some more bird netting squirreled away so we'll get and use that tomorrow. The darn jays are sure persistent. They're still going after any apples they can get to.