Blue Jay Eating Sumac

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Yesterday while out and about on a Golden Eagle Survey for The National Eagle Center, I came across a blue jay hanging out on some sumac bushes. I wondered if the bird was perching or if it was actually going to eat the berries.


Sure enough, the blue jay started eating the berries. Sumac is supposed to be one of those native shrubs (at least to us here in Minnesota) that we can plant and it will be food for birds--and it looks pretty. It gets those fabulous burgundy leaves in the fall and those furry red berries that stick around through winter. Seeing those berries all winter has made me wonder on more than one occasion if birds will in fact eat those berries. I once observed a cardinal feeding on them in late winter, but that's about it.

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If you google "birds eating sumac" several photos come up--so they do eat it. My buddy Carrol Henderson says that some berries are left alone by birds at the beginning of the winter so they can lose some of their moisture content and be a bit more edible later in winter--when they really need it as all the tastier foods have already been eaten. Has anyone else seen blue jays on sumac?

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I found it interesting that this blue jay was foraging on the sumac alone, most of the blue jays are in small flocks--especially when they visit the feeder. I wonder if this bird is trying to keep this stash of food on the down lo?