The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States, although western populations may be migratory. Resident populations are also found in Newfoundland, Canada while breeding populations can be found in southern Canada. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests and is common near and in residential areas. It is predominantly blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies of the blue jay are recognized.
The blue jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. Like squirrels, blue jays are known to hide nuts for later consumption. It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. Young are altricial and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching. They may remain with their parents for one to two months. The bird’s name derives from its noisy, garrulous nature. It is sometimes called a “jaybird”. [Wikipedia]
This common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period. [All About Birds]
Blue Jay Facts [All About Birds]
- The Blue Jay frequently mimics the calls of hawks, especially the Red-shouldered Hawk. These calls may provide information to other jays that a hawk is around, or may be used to deceive other species into believing a hawk is present.
- The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.
- Blue Jays are known to take and eat eggs and nestlings of other birds, but we don’t know how common this is. In an extensive study of Blue Jay feeding habits, only 1% of jays had evidence of eggs or birds in their stomachs. Most of their diet was composed of insects and nuts.
- The oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay was at least 26 years, 11 months old when it was found dead after being caught in fishing gear. It had been banded in the Newfoundland/Labrador/St. Pierre et Miquelon area in 1989 and was found there in 2016.