Dear Sun Spots: I have a unique problem; perhaps your readers can help. There is a flock of blue jays in my area which visit my house frequently to peck the paint off the lower clapboards and other places they can reach. How can I discourage them? Shooting them is not a practical option. – DWC, No Town.

Answer: The New Hampshire Audubon says that the reason the birds peck and consume the paint is not clear, but they think since paint has calcium in it, the jays are seeking the calcium from the paint. Paint pecking is most often reported during the winter, when snow covers the ground and the birds do not have access to dirt, earth and sand, which may provide their usual supply of minerals. So, they may be attempting to supplement their diet.

They offer two possible solutions. The first is to make the area inaccessible to the birds. They suggest observing the exact locations the birds are most interested in and try covering the area with heavy plastic, chicken wire or small-mesh plastic garden netting.

Another strategy is to supply the birds with what may be lacking in their diet. Offer them eggshells crumbled into small pieces and placed near feeders. These are often consumed by the jays in winter probably because the eggshells contain reserves of calcium. Try putting them out in a flat dish on a platform feeder where there are sunflower seeds that will also attract the jays. You may want to start by putting the eggshells near the area where the birds are pecking your paint, then gradually moving them away so the jays will no longer be attracted to your house.

Note that you will need to replace the shells if they are covered by snowfall, as the birds will not search for them, but more likely will return to the paint on your house. Also, egg shells may contain salmonella bacteria and it is best to boil the shells for 10 minutes or heat them in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees, let them cool and crush them.

The Stanton Bird Club also notes that an alternative to egg shells is oyster shells, which are available at Paris Farmers Union, for 45 cents per pound or $12.49 for 50 pounds.

Dear Sun Spots: Does anyone have any old-fashioned iron radiators they want out of the way? I am looking for a couple for reasonable cost or for pickup. Please call 897-4954. Thanks. – No Name, Livermore Falls.

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