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A few days ago I saw a Calif Scrub Jay fly in and grab a House Finch off our hanging feeder, take it to the ground, peck it to death, then take it to the tree across the road where it has its nest of young'uns. Yesterday I saw it swoop in again to the platform feeder and try to grab another one, but missed it. Then today I saw it light in the Pine tree in our yard, look at the birds feeding there, then swoop in like a Hawk after one. It seems it had picked its target as it followed on of the Finches as they all scattered. It chased it like a Hawk would, matching its every twist and turn. It caught the House Finch its beak, dropped to the road, and holding it down with one foot proceeded to peck it to death. Then it took it in its beak and flew back to its nest like it did with the one the other day. 

I knew that Scrub Jays would rob other birds nests of eggs and young, but have never seen this behavior before where they actively chased them like a Hawk does. I've had feeders in my yard for about 15 years, and Scrub Jays have nested  in the same tree across the road for several of those years. This is the first year I have seen this happen. Just wondered if anyone else has ever seen this behavior from Scrub Jays. I never have time to get a photo, it all happens too fast!!

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  • 9 months later...

Older post, but I just stumbled on it.  In case you still are interested, here is what birdsoftheworld (Cornell) says:

"Also occasionally kills small birds in flight, including fledglings (Michener and Michener 1945, Carmen 1988, Ehrlich and McLaughlin 1988) as well as adults, sometimes captured in flight (McLandress and McLandress 1981)."

It goes on to say they will capture and consume lizards, small snakes, field mice, etc.  So I guess it was not an anomaly...


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6 hours ago, Clip said:

My guess is that this is probably not it's preferred food source but with babies to feed...

Probably so. They're nesting in the same tree across the road again this year, so I'll be watching to see if they (it) does the same thing this year.

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