This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Despite bird millinery, jays still trouble the game-preserver on account of their fondness of game-bird eggs, yet is of some service, for, ever on the watch, gives notice of intruders in coverts by chattering and scolding, thus indicating that something unusual is going on. The jay also helps the farmer by destroying the eggs of the wood-pigeon, and is useful to the fruit-grower by eating the eggs of the blackbird. Indeed, it does good by feeding on worms, snails, slugs, cockchafers, beetles, insect larvae, mice and voles, thus a blessing to the forester, though relieving the woods of acorns and beechnuts. Where a garden is near a wood and there are jays, green peas disappear, also ripe cherries and plums, sometimes cobnuts and filberts, and even apples are pecked and spoiled. The netting of peas is a serious matter, and that of covering over standard fruit trees impracticable. Shooting, therefore, is the only remedy as regards gardens and fruit plantations, but even this is not easy, as jays are "knowing " birds and as wary and skilful in pilfering as expert thieves generally are, and requiring much cuteness and patience on the part of the gunner, lying in ambush being the surest way to get a good shot, as the jay, like the magpie, will watch and wait, and when the way is clear take advantage.
The jay is difficult to trap in the open, but may be taken where there is some short cover or grass, making a nest and placing in it a few eggs (bantam's preferably), and setting three or four traps round it. The Musk Rat-trap (American pattern, Fig. 104) is the best for capturing jays and also magpies. Where jays are numerous, immense quantities may be taken in winter when there is frost by means of the improvised nest of eggs and traps placed round, a dead rabbit being also a killing bait.
Fig. 104. - Musk Rat Trap (American Pattern).
(Supplied by Mr. H. Lane, Eagle Works, Wednesfield, Staffordshire.)