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Blue jay

Feed Loader, Jim Williams Special To The Star

Where have all the blue jays gone? Not far

  • Article by: VAL CUNNINGHAM and JIM WILLIAMS
  • Contributing writers
  • May 26, 2009 - 4:26 PM

Q Why have my back-yard blue jays disappeared?

A Blue jays tend to be noisy birds until nesting season, when they become incredibly silent and secretive. If fact, they're so secretive that they hide their nests in a dense evergreen, and vary their route when they leave and enter.

It's fascinating to watch a blue jay bringing food to its nestlings. It will first land in a nearby tree, then on a shrub, then fly low into the evergreen that houses its nest, leaping from branch to branch as a stairway to reach the nest. It does all of this to throw off any predators that might be watching.

Songbird viewing

Q Where are some places in the Twin Cities to see migrating songbirds?

A The metro area is blessed with many places that attract migrants as they pass through by providing food and shelter. Try Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, Staring Lake Park in Eden Prairie, Thomas Roberts Bird Sanctuary near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, Sucker Lake Regional Park in Shoreview and Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park in Cottage Grove. The state parks are also wonderful places to see a wide variety of birds, including Afton, Wild River and William O'Brien.

Stick-built nests

Q I drive past an eagle's nest every day on my way to work and have often wondered if they are built from fresh green sticks or dry ones.

A Eagles build their nests with sticks collected from the ground or broken off trees, so it's possible that some of the sticks are green.

The birds weave the sticks into large nests, adding new sticks as the breeding season progresses. They also add moss, grass and other vegetation as filler. Because eagles will re-use the same nest year after year -- each nesting pair adding its own filler -- a single nest can weigh in the tons.

Val Cunningham can be reached at valwrites@comcast.net. Jim Williams can be reached by email at two-jays@att.net.Join the conversation about birds at www.startribune.com/wingnut.

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