I tend to have a hard time accurately capturing a photo of a blue jay. When I see them while doing outdoor activities, I never have my camera with me. However, this particular one came to me in my backyard. Among the sparrows, Blue Jays are the next most common bird to visit my backyard. However, as smart as they are, they know that they are too big for the free-standing feeder and yet they still tend to show up. Over the past few months I have noticed a distinct territorial (rude) behavior when they show up.
This particular snowy day was no different for the Blue Jay to exhibit its rude behavior. The sparrows and cardinals were going about their normal feeding when the call of the Blue Jay made its presence known well before the bird. Three seconds after the first call, it appeared in the tree next to the feeder. After perching on the branch, it began to make more calls facing the feeder. At the same time the sparrows and cardinals cleared the feeder and the Blue Jay made its way to the empty feeder and consumed as much food before its body weight started to tilt the feeder.
I waited for the Blue Jay to try to attempt to feed from the suet cake. That particular feeder is much better suited for larger birds such as a woodpecker. My guess is that is was more interested in the black oil sunflower seeds being consumed by the sparrows.
The entire ordeal took about 2 minutes. I had my camera already set up because I knew that the birds would stop by that day to take advantage to the free food. I used a super telephoto lens with a tripod. The snow created enough reflected light for me to use a higher shutter speed and a higher ISO. I also zoomed in to the maximum focal length so that the subject would fill the frame. A higher shutter speed was used due to the fast and sporadic movement of the bird.
I have had a lot of practice with photographing birds in my backyard. When the Blue Jay made its quick appearance I was set to go and my auto focus only took no time to lock on to the subject. However, the Blue Jay moved from branch to branch a few times; Slowly inching closer to the feeder while making its warning calls. That was the only time the auto focus had an issue because it kept focusing on the branches in front of the bird. Manual focus was not an option because of the fast movements.
On a final note
I’ve learned a few interesting habits of the Blue Jay over the last few months. Even though I may have the opinion of the bird being rude, I know that it’s the way its wired. To look at it from a different perspective, the Blue Jay could be sending a friendly warning to the other birds letting them know that he wanted some seeds as well but its weight would cause an issue with their feeding. The sparrows reappeared and resumed their normal feeding immediately after the bird was done feeding,
Spark creativity by capturing the world around you one photo at a time
150-600 at 600mm 1/500sec ISo 2000