As I said, we love birds, with one big exception: blue jays. The gang of a dozen or so first shows up, quite reliably, Thanksgiving weekend, and they continue to appear daily, always just after the crack of dawn. Lately, that’s been at 7:14 a.m., very promptly and predictably. Not only do they damage the house, but their surprisingly loud pecking and tapping destroys any thought of sleeping in. All research we’ve been able to find suggests that the birds are interested in the calcium in our paint and that this behavior is especially common on south-facing homes in the Northeast — unfortunately, that’s us!
This year we declared war. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, jays prefer eggshells to paint, so we began offering them a pile of shells (washed). They do like the shells — we’ve watched them fly away with them. But we can never provide enough to satisfy them. Further, if we put them out at the end of the day, overnight snows cover them up, and the birds turn to the alternative: our house.
Our next strategy was to tie CDs to posts, on the theory that the light flashing off the CDs would scare the jays away. That actually seemed to work for a week or so, until a series of blizzards hit New England. As the snow piled up, the birds ignored the CDs and hit the house once again.
Our next idea was to decorate the house with Mylar garlands, the gold ones with a “Happy Birthday” message, along with strings of shiny, bright red valentine hearts. Those looked quite festive but were a total failure as bird repellents: the birds perched right on them.
Our most recent weapons are helium-filled balloons. I hesitate to test our luck by swearing that we’ve finally won, but the first morning all was quiet — well, at least, almost quiet. At 7:14 I heard some scrabbling on the trellis under the bedroom window that signaled a jay was trying to get a foothold, but there was not a single peck. A few minutes later I heard more scratching, sounding even closer, and there was the jay, standing on the sill looking in at me with what I imagined was a combination of puzzlement and indignation. He waved no white flag, but I think we won a skirmish, if not the war itself.
We’re gracious in victory, however; we just ask, “Take our suet and our seed (and our shells), but leave our paint alone!” We’d welcome any comments from readers who’ve been plagued by this problem!