RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER AND THE BLUE JAY – Marilyn Armstrong

If there are two more aggressive garden birds in this part of the world, I have no idea what the might be. All garden birds are a little aggressive to other birds. Some birds, though, when they hit the feeder the other birds decide there’s a branch they’d like to visit elsewhere.

Matched pair?

All woodpeckers are aggressive — not based on their size. They are aware that they have very thick skulls to go with their deadly beak, so even bigger birds avoid them. Some of the smaller ones are more aggressive than the bigger ones.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay again

Blue Jays are aggressive. They attack the nests of other birds and eat or destroy their eggs. And if you get near a nest, don’t be surprised to have a phalanx of  Blue Jays attacking you. They don’t mess around.

One Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Eating well!

So it figures when both landed on the same feeder, it was eyeball-to-eyeball and neither backed down. They flew off together.



Categories: Marilyn Armstrong, Nature, New England, Photography, Wildlife, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , ,

7 replies

  1. Something about blue jays and red bellied woodpeckers that does not make sense. I don’t see them as adversaries or enemies because even though they quibble like kids do over the last piece of candy in the candy jar… they are almost always together. If a blue jay shows up at the feeder you can almost always count on the red bellied to show up… even if you haven’t seen one in weeks. It would be much easier for the two to avoid each other than to almost always be in proximity. There is some benefit received by one or the other from always being together.. maybe the red bellied are more secure with the jays habit of grouping up and announcing the arrival and location of the local hawks.. other birds seem more comfortable in the yard with jays around too. Sure they appear to be somewhat bullies around the feeder but being bullied a little is far better than what the hawk has planned.

    Apparently there a many other people observing this behavior too. My question is not why they quibble over the food.. most animals seem to do that.. but what benefit do they derive from hanging out together as they almost always do?

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    • An interesting point. I have the red-bellies show up all the time (they are working over a sickly tree nearby), but they do show up paired with the Blue Jays. They squabble constantly, but they are like bickering friends. And they bully each other because the other birds just get out of their way! I have lots of pictures of the pair of them — and we rarely see Blue Jays at our feeders EXCEPT with the red-bellies.

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  2. Very colourful ones, they are….

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