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Nancy Colvin of Stoneleigh writes: Do you have any idea where the blue jays have gone? Since the avian flu came through here several years ago, it seems that there are few blue jays, though I did see a couple in Westchester County, N.Y., during a recent visit. Since they are not native, maybe this is a good thing, but it still seems strange not to see any.

Outdoors Girl noticed fewer of the sassy birds at her backyard feeders a number of years back but has seen them return in recent years. So she went to an expert, Bob Ringler of the Maryland Ornithological Society, who replied: Blue jays definitely are native, a common breeding bird, migrant, and wintering bird throughout the eastern United States. It was West Nile Virus, not avian flu, that might have affected the blue jay population about eight or nine years ago. The population rebounded quickly from this brief setback. The lack of blue jays in a particular neighborhood based on anecdotal evidence probably does not represent the overall picture. Observers that I talk to say blue jays have been around in normal numbers in recent years. They might become more secretive during the breeding season, which is beginning now. In some winters they move farther south in greater numbers than in milder winters. There might be some local factors affecting the appearance of blue jays, but be assured there is a very large population in the region.

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