Blue Jay and Milkweed in Canada’s Hottest Housing Market

Blue Jay and Milkweed in Canada’s Hottest Housing Market

The blue jay is not a rare bird in Toronto where oak trees are common. Yet, few Torontonians can encounter the jays close up. I am fortunate to spot a pair right through the window of my office, overlooking a native garden. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a mighty oak in the small garden. I only keep bunches of milkweed.

One would not make a connection between blue jay and milkweed until he/she saw what I saw.  On an early spring morning, a jay was collecting milkweed fibers from the milkweed stems. At this time of the year, all stems of milkweed are bone-dried. He flew to the top of a branch and tore a piece of fiber from the stem by his beak. Carrying the 2-3 inch long fiber in his beak, he flew to another branch and repeated the exercise.

I grow common milkweed and swamp milkweed side by side. Mr. Jay skipped the common milkweed and ran directly to the swamp milkweed. It was the soft fiber of the swamp milkweed that he was harvesting. The common milkweed stems are too crisp for nest building.

While Mr. Jay was busy working, Mrs. Jay had gotten tired of munching around my garden and flew away without notice. At the first sound of the wing-flopping, Mr. Jay stopped all his work and followed his darling immediately.

I stopped my work and spent this entire time in awe watching the serious couple doing their things in harmony. Toronto prides itself on Canada’s hottest housing market. Although Mr. and Mrs. Jay are immune to the housing bubble in the city, they still need to work their way to build their own nest. Moreover, good luck finding a sturdy tree.

This spring, I kept watching out for the Jays every day. By the time of this writing, I only spotted one Jay flying solo on a sunny morning. I hope his darling is high up in a big oak tree, nursing their young.

Ontario native oaks include red oak, pin oak, white oak, bur oak, and more. The most common oak in Toronto is the red oak.  Besides dispersing acorns by hiding and forgetting, blue jays also disperse pine nuts. Eastern white pines are Toronto’s most common native pine trees.

You may get to the point why blue Jays are more difficult to find nowadays. When is the last time you see a red oak or a white pine in the city of Toronto? Is it because of this hottest housing market?

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