How I Met Snickers BACK HOME
It all started a couple of years ago. I would sometimes eat lunch in my car (in a business park where I work). One day I tossed a piece of bread to a “blue jay”, or so I thought that’s what it was. I knew little about birds at the time.
These “blue jays” would eagerly take the pieces of bread I tossed them. When spring rolled around I started doing this more often. One day I thought “I wonder how close they will come to my car”. Little did I know where this thought would lead.
I eventually noticed there was one particular "blue jay" that seemed to show up regularly around my car. So, I started tossing the pieces of bread closer and closer to my car. Getting used to this, I decided to see if he would land on top of the car. I opened the moon roof, placed a piece of bread on the roof and then closed the moon roof.
Sure enough, he would land on top of my car and take the bread. It was about this time that I did some research and learned these were Scrub Jays. I am also convinced that Snickers is a male. Snickers has a mate and I have seen him give food to her on numerous occasions. In addition, Snickers is larger and prettier than his mate.
Eventually I would place a piece of bread on top of my car and place my hand very close to the bread. Once he got used to this, I tried holding the piece of bread. When he finally took the piece of bread from my fingers, I knew I had finally made “first contact”.
This one bold Scrub Jay needed a name, so Snickers was chosen.
About the time of “first contact”, I discovered their fondness for peanuts. Peanuts seem to have a huge visual attraction for Jays. Currently I also feed Snickers hulled sunflower seeds, raw corn, and cashews.
I then started placing the peanuts on different parts of the car - door, mirror, etc. At one point Snickers was even willing to drop down into the passenger seat for a peanut. However, on a couple of occasions she became disoriented after taking the peanut and flew onto the dash and became wedged between the front windshield and dash. He started squawking as though he might be panicking. I held a peanut to the side window and he got the idea and flew out (taking the peanut on the way). Since birds seem to become easily disoriented in enclosed spaces, I gave up on that.
Once Snickers was used to the car, I moved outside and started placing peanuts on my hand or shoulder. Snickers always got the idea and would swoop down and take the peanut. If I used a whole peanut he would take it without stopping. If I want Snickers to land in my hand and stay a few seconds then I use small pieces of cashews broken in half. This instinctively causes Snickers to stay on my hand and spend time sorting out the pieces of nuts she wants.
Scrub Jays are non migratory and Snickers will stay around all winter. I do not know how old Snickers is, but research shows they can live in excess of 10 years.
Update - Snickers has been missing since March of 2001. About the same month, another Scrub Jay (later named Skippy) showed up. Skippy was very easy to hand tame.