Blue Jays Are Chipping Paint Off My House? WTF?

So I witnessed an odd phenomenon last  year during the winter months. And of course the phenomenon has something to do with your house, or I wouldn’t be writing about it here.

I kept hearing what sounded like woodpeckers knocking on the exterior of our house. To my recollection, I couldn’t remember ever seeing woodpeckers during the winter, let alone woodpeckers that were knocking on the exterior of my home.

So I snuck over to the window and looked out on either side of my front entry door. I was shocked to see 5 Blue Jays staring back at me. And Blue Jays being the obstinate birds that they are, gave me a dirty look, and then went right back to what they were doing. They were pecking at the siding on the home.

What I witnessed was this: they were breaking pieces of my cement board siding off, picking them up, and then flying away – seemingly triumphant with their little prize!

The lower course of siding around my front entry door is comprised of cement board.

So I wondered what was behind this curious behavior?

I did what anyone would do in this day and age of information accessibility – I “Googled” it.

I was definitely surprised when I found two articles located on the internet regarding this same phenomenon – both of which referenced Blue Jays as the culprits. Thank goodness – I wasn’t going crazy.

So this is what I found out…

Apparently, in the winter months, songbirds (such as Blue Jays) experience a calcium deficiency. They can’t properly store calcium during the colder months of the year. And they need the calcium in anticipation of spring and the nesting season – presumably to help with the formation of the eggs. So they go in search of calcium sources wherever they can find them.

Limestone is an ingredient in the cement board, as well as in most types of paints. And Limestone is a source of calcium.

Somehow Blue Jays and other songbirds have discovered that they can get their calcium fix from exterior house paint and/or cement board.

Once again, mother nature finds a way to get around an issue…

Okay so great, I figured out what they were doing. But then the question arose of how can I stop this behavior to prevent further destruction on the entire exterior of my home?

Being an animal lover, I had to find something non-lethal to curtail the behavior.

Well thankfully the articles I found online offered a perfect solution.

I would just need to give the birds an alternative source of calcium!

Both articles I found recommended placing empty egg shells near the scene of the crime where the birds are continuously gathering to get the calcium. When the birds see that they have an alternative source of calcium being offered to them, they inevitably would stop assaulting the exterior of our home.

Thankfully, my wife and I eat a lot of eggs in our home.

So we simply placed the discarded shells on the front deck, and lo and behold, we watched as the Blue Jays swooped in and accepted our little offer of peace, and took all the shells.

Who knew this was even a thing?

So if you ever hear knocking on the exterior of your home, and discover damaged areas of paint or siding, the culprit may be the ongoing winter calcium shortage for Blue Jays. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up…..

Michael McCarty
NH Licensed Home Inspector # 316
Vermont Property Inspector License # 143.0134099
HUD 203k Consultant # P-1939

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