The blue jay is a beautiful bird living in many parts of North America. These birds are known for their bright blue feathers and distinct call.
This blog post will provide you with all the information about these beautiful birds. We will discuss the habitat, diet, and behavior and how you can attract them to your backyard.
So whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking to learn more about Blue Jays, read on for an in-depth guide.
- Blue Jay Characteristics
- Types of Blue Jay in the United States
- All about the Blue Jay
- 1. What does a Blue Jay Look Like?
- 2. What does Blue Jay Sound like?
- 3. How Are Blue Jay Different From Other Birds
- 4. How long does Blue Jay live?
- 5. Where does Blue Jay live?
- 6. Where does Blue Jay Sleep?
- 7. Where does Blue Jay go at Night?
- 8. Where does Blue Jay Nest?
- 9. When does Blue Jay lay Eggs?
- 10. Does Blue Jay Migrate?
- How to Attract Blue Jay?
Blue Jay Characteristics
Origin and Habitat
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae. It is native to North America and is found from southern Canada to northern Mexico. This beautiful creature was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae.
Blue Jays are a common sight in many parts of North America. They are considered to be one of the most recognizable birds in the region.
Blue Jays breed in forested areas across eastern and central North America and winters across a large part of the continent.
Blue Jays live mainly in forests but can also survive well within cities with enough food available such as fruits or artificial garbage (i.e., trash cans).
Blue jays can adapt to many different types of habitats, including forests, woodlands, gardens, parks, and even residential areas.
Appearance and Characteristics
These birds are known for their blue feathers, white bellies and crowns, black accents on the wings, and a distinctive crest atop their heads. They also have strong legs with sharp talons to eat nuts, seeds, and insects.
While they may not be as flashy as some other birds, they are certainly interesting creatures with an array of unique behaviors.
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.
A Blue jay has many other characteristics, such as flying high above trees without fear of falling. It helps them catch prey from afar while keeping a safe distance between themselves and other animals like squirrels who might want some tasty treats too.
Jays are omnivorous animals which means that they eat both meat and plants, but their diet is mostly made up of insects, nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Types of Blue Jay in the United States
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a vibrant bluebird that can be found in the eastern and central parts of the United States.
There are three types of Blue Jays in the US: The Eastern Blue Jay, The Western Blue Jay, and The Florida Scrub-Jay. Each type has its unique characteristics.
- The Eastern Blue Jay is the most common type of Blue Jay in the US. They are typically blue with a light gray breast and a blackhead. They have a long tail and a crest on their head to show dominance or aggression. They live in deciduous forests and eat mostly insects but will also eat fruit, seeds, and nuts
- The Western Blue Jay is very similar to the Eastern Blue Jay but has a slightly lighter blue color and lives in different types of habitats. The Western Blue Jay can be found in coniferous forests and mixed woodlands. Meanwhile, the Eastern Blue Jay is only found in deciduous forests
- The Florida Scrub-Jay is the smallest type of Blue Jay residing in Florida. They are gray with a blue head and breast. They have no crest on their head and eat mostly insects. They also enjoy several types of fruit, seeds, and nuts
All three types of Blue Jays are beautiful birds that make for great additions to any backyard birding list!
All about the Blue Jay
1. What does a Blue Jay Look Like?
Blue jays are relatively large birds, and they have a length of around nine to twelve inches.Their wingspan is about thirteen to seventeen inches, which means they can fly fast.
They also weigh between two and four ounces. When standing straight up, the bluebird could be as tall as ten inches high, even though this rarely happens because they spend most of their time sitting rather than standing up straight.
- They have a characteristic blue crest on their head, which can be raised or lowered, depending on the bird’s mood
- The male Blue Jay has an all-blue color while the female one is dark brown or light gray, but both sexes share some white markings underneath their body
- One of a blue jay’s most interesting and identifiable features is its coloring. These birds are predominantly blue with a white chest and blackhead. Blue Jays also have a strong beak to crack open nuts and seeds
- Blue jays also have a crest on their heads, made up of long feathers. The color of the crest is black and blue, but during mating season or when predators threaten them, this part may turn reddish
- They have strong legs and feet, and their beaks are stout and sharp. Adult males are bright blue with black head markings, while females are primarily greyish-blue with some light blue feathers. Juveniles are similar to females but have lighter blue markings on their heads
Blue Jays have been studied extensively because of their coloration patterns on the head, back, and breast (see Figure below). Most people believe that blue jays’ stripey wings indicate dominance over other species due to their size or aggressiveness, but this is not true!
Blue Jay feathers contain:
- Melanin pigments called eumelanin
- And others like reds and oranges and yellows are made from carotenoid pigments
When exposed to light wavelengths such as UV rays from sunlight, these two types produce different colors. Depending on how much time a bird spends outside each day, its feathers take on overtime.
And these colorants fade at various rates depending on light intensity levels outside. You may notice some blue jays with dark heads while others seem almost entirely white.
2. What does Blue Jay Sound like?
Blue Jays are known to be curious and intelligent birds. They have a wide range of sounds used for different purposes, including:
- Alarm calls
- Mobbing calls (when they chase off predators)
- Simple jay-like rasping chortles when agitated at humans coming near their nests during nesting season
In addition, Blue Jay also has other unique vocalizations such as:
Whistled songs sound like someone whistling “cheery-up” while their wings flutter against each other, producing clapping noises called wing snaps. This behavior usually occurs when they are excited about something new.
One thing that makes Blue Jay unique among its family members is its ability to imitate other birds’ calls, like hawk or crow sounds. It enables them to deceive other animals when there is danger nearby but can sometimes serve as a warning if predators come near.
Like most birds that live in flocks, Blue Jay has many calls for communicating within its group. The call may be signaling danger or alerting others about food sources nearby.
- Blue Jay’s call is a harsh, nasal “jay-jay” sound that can be heard in the morning and evening hours or when they are alarmed by something like an approaching predator
- They also give off other vocalizations, such as whistled songs consisting primarily of harsh screeches called kleeks to communicate with each other about food sources
- It occurs during the nesting season from March through May. There might not always be enough food available nearby for all their younglings. Hence, this type of communication helps ensure survival among the flock members until fledging
Blue Jays are known to be quite noisy, with a loud and raucous call that is often used to warn others of the presence of predators or intruders. They use their distinct calls for many other purposes, including communicating about food sources and attracting mates.
The Blue Jay’s crest can also express its mood:
- Up when excited
- Flat over its head in a sign of aggression
- Down as a submissive gesture during courtship or after an aggressive encounter with another jay
- Sideways if it feels threatened by someone approaching too close
If you want to listen to some Blue Jay calls, there are plenty of recordings online. A quick search should turn up plenty of results.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to see some live Blue Jays near you, take a listen and see how their calls differ depending on their location. Hearing them in person is the best way to experience their unique sound!
3. How Are Blue Jay Different From Other Birds
Blue jays are different from other birds in a few ways.
- For one, they have a crest on their head that sticks up and is blue. They also have a black throat and white stripes down their chest. Their feathers are blue and black, making them easy to spot in the trees
- Blue jays are smaller than some other birds, but they are still pretty big compared to most small birds
- One of the biggest differences between blue jays and other birds is their behavior. Blue jays are known for being very loud and aggressive. They will often attack other animals or people who get too close to their territory
- One of the easiest ways to distinguish Blue Jays from other birds is their calls. Blue Jays have a variety of calls to communicate with each other, including a distinctive “jay jay” call
- The last thing about blue jays is how fast they move around in trees when you try to catch one. So. it’s almost impossible not to get hit by those wings flapping at once
4. How long does Blue Jay live?
The average lifespan of a Blue Jay is around six years in the wild. However, they have been known to live up to twenty years in captivity.
Their main predators are hawks and owls, which account for most of their mortality. Jays that survive into old age typically have a large territory with plenty of food sources.
5. Where does Blue Jay live?
The blue jay is known as a resident bird in both deciduous and evergreen forests, but it may also be found in open woodland areas and orchards. However, the bird has adapted well to human society and can regularly be seen around farmsteads, parks, and suburban gardens.
These birds tend to forage for food on their own or within pairs; however, flocks – which usually don’t exceed 12 individuals – have been observed when feeding.
Blue Jays can be found in Eastern and Central North America.
In winter, Blue Jay’s range expands to include southern Canada, the Gulf Coast states, and some northern areas of Mexico.
6. Where does Blue Jay Sleep?
Blue Jay can sleep in a lot of different places. They can sleep in trees, on the ground, or even in houses! They like to find a safe and comfortable place where they can rest their head.
Blue Jays are very smart birds, and they will usually choose a spot where they can see what is going on around them to feel safe.
Sometimes Blue Jays will even share a nest with other birds. They are very social animals and love to be around others. This helps them stay safe while they sleep.
Sleeping in groups makes it harder for predators to pick off one bird at a time.
Blue Jays are very active birds, and they don’t usually stay in one place for very long. So, they are always on the lookout for new places to sleep. If you see a Blue Jay in your yard, it’s probably because they have found a place they like and feel safe.
7. Where does Blue Jay go at Night?
Blue Jay is a migratory bird and spends most of the year in North America. However, Blue Jay does migrate to Central and South America during the wintertime. So, where does Blue Jay go at night? It depends on the time of year!
- Blue Jay can be found in woodlands, meadows, parks, or gardens during the spring and summer months
- But, Blue Jay will migrate to forests and tropical areas during the fall and winter months
Blue Jay does not go to a specific place at night. Instead, Blue Jay goes wherever it wants. This can be anywhere from staying in the trees near its home to flying hundreds of miles away. This freedom is one of the things that makes Blue Jay so special.
8. Where does Blue Jay Nest?
The Blue Jay starts to build a new nest in February and March. The male will bring nesting material, such as twigs and pine needles, to the female, busy building the nest out of mud, roots, mosses, or grass (and any other assortment of things).
She lines the inside with softer materials like hair and plant fibers.
They’ll have built a beautiful cup-shaped nest that’s about 12 inches wide by nine inches deep in just over two weeks. It typically takes place high up in tall trees where it is well protected from predators. However, sometimes nests can be found lower down.
The typical clutch size for this species is four eggs which are incubated for 17 days after being laid. The young fled around 16 days after that.
Blue Jays regulate the temperature of their eggs by changing positions while incubating to minimize energy expenditure. They also move the eggs around to prevent embryo mortality caused by unequal heating (and consequent developmental delays).
Because they nest high up in trees it can be hard to watch them build the nest. But once you find one, try and keep an eye on it because sometimes these birds will use the same nest year after year, adding new sticks or grass each time.
Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. They mate for life.
9. When does Blue Jay lay Eggs?
Blue Jay’s breeding season is from early April through mid-August, with nesting mainly occurring in May and June.
A female Blue Jay lays between three to seven eggs per clutch, with four or five being the most common number of eggs laid.
Egg-laying begins about one week after a nest is built by both sexes. They lay eggs every other day until they fill that particular clutch.
The blue jay incubation period spans 17 days from when the last egg was laid, meaning it takes two weeks for a whole clutch of five to hatch if there are no delays. Incubating Blue Jays’ eggs occurs only during daylight hours, starting at dawn and concluding at dusk each day while they last throughout the nesting season.
The young are altricial when they hatch and remain in the nest for 16 to 17 days, at which point they fledge (leave the nest). Blue Jays will often feed their young after they’ve left the nest, up to a month or more post-fledging.
10. Does Blue Jay Migrate?
Blue Jays do not migrate as far as some other bird species. They typically move within a 100-mile radius of their nesting area. This allows them to take advantage of the food resources available in different parts of their territory throughout the year.
Some birds, like swallows, will travel thousands of miles each year to find better food sources.
Blue Jays don’t have to make those kinds of sacrifices because they live in areas with diverse food options all year round. That said, there are still some times of the year when Blue Jays will move around more than usual.
For example, in the fall and winter, they may visit different parts of their territory in search of fruit or nuts that are harder to find in colder months.
How to Attract Blue Jay?
- Blue Jays are attracted to various feeders, including hopper, tube, and platform feeders. They also like to eat fruit, so you can put out apple slices or grape halves on a tray
- If you have a birdbath, be sure to keep it clean and filled with fresh water. Also, you can also provide nesting materials such as twigs and straw in late winter or early spring when the birds are looking for a place to build a nest
- Finally, make sure your yard is free of open windows, barbed wire, and toxic chemicals. By providing these simple accommodations, you’ll encourage Blue Jays to visit your backyard all year long
Here’re other important things to know when attracting a Blue Jay to your place:
1. What Flowers does Blue Jay Like?
According to one study, Blue Jays prefer flowers with a strong smell, like lilacs and honeysuckle. They may also be drawn to brightly-colored blooms, like those of the bird of paradise plant.
Regardless of the specific flowers they favor, it’s clear that Blue Jays appreciate natural beauty and take time to enjoy the sights and smells of nature.
Some of their favorites include petunias, morning glory, and thistles. They also enjoy sunflowers, but only if there is a source of water nearby.
Blue Jays will usually perch on top of the flower or near the stem to drink nectar. In addition to being drawn to colorful blooms, they also like sweet-smelling flowers. So if you’re looking to attract Blue Jays to your garden, consider planting some fragrant varieties.
2. What Plants does Blue Jay Like?
Blue Jay likes to eat various plants, including seeds, fruits, and nuts. Some of their favorite plants include:
- Oak trees
- Hickory trees
- Dogwood trees
- Sumac trees
- Grape vines
- Raspberry bushes
- Blackberry bushes
Their favorite food sources include insects such as worms when available. Still, they mainly prefer seeds from trees like Ash Tree Acorns or Oak Tree acorns, which make up at least half of the diet each year! The second most popular choice would be sunflower seeds.
3. What Does Blue Jay Eat?
Blue Jays typically eat insects, nuts, and seeds. They have also been known to eat fruits and berries. Blue Jays are omnivorous birds, meaning they can digest both plant and animal material.
This helps them to survive in a variety of habitats. For example, while many other bird species might only be able to find food in a forested area, Blue Jays can also hunt for food in open fields or urban areas. This adaptability is one of the reasons why Blue Jays are so successful at living in human-occupied environments.
- Insects are their primary source of food. They will consume a wide variety of bugs, including beetles, caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers, wasps, bees, and spiders. Their powerful beaks and strong tongues allow them to crack open nuts easily, making this another staple of their diets
- They can also eat fruits like apples or pears from backyard trees, but they will often leave the seeds on the ground for other birds (or humans) to enjoy later!
- The diet of Blue Jays varies by season: in winter months, when there isn’t much food available outside, these birds will feed themselves off acorns stored away during warmer times
Blue jays don’t only scavenge and hunt; they also steal food from other bird species.
For example, a blue jay might fly down into an area where sparrows are feeding on some seed that has fallen out of someone’s hand.
The jay will take as much seed as it can carry and fly back to its perch to eat. This behavior is known as kleptoparasitism. Blue jays are one of the most common birds that engage in this type of feeding.
So, next time you see a blue jay in your backyard or local park, give them a good look.
4. How to make Blue Jay Food
There are many ways to make Blue Jay food.
- One way is to put a peanut butter sandwich on a stick and cover it in birdseed. You can also put grape jelly on a stick and cover it in birdseed
- Another way to make Blue Jay food is to mix some cornmeal, birdseed, and water. Then, put that mixture on a tray
Here is my recipe
- Hard-boiled egg
- A piece of bread
- Butter or margarine
- Lemon juice
To make Blue Jay food, you will need a hard-boiled egg, piece of bread, butter or margarine, mustard, mayonnaise, and lemon juice.
- First, cut the hard-boiled egg in half and remove the yolk. Then, mash the yolk with a fork and mix in some mustard and mayonnaise until it is a smooth paste
- Next, spread the mixture on one side of the bread slice and top with a squeeze of lemon juice
- Finally, put some butter or margarine on the sandwich and close it up. You can also add some chopped pickles, onions, or tomatoes to the sandwich for extra flavor
5. What to feed Blue Jay?
Blue Jays are Omnivorous birds that feed on a variety of foods.
- Insects – They can be fed live or dead insects. Live insects can include mealworms, crickets, and wax worms. Also, dead insects can include spiders, beetles, and grasshoppers
- Seeds – They can be fed birdseed mix or sunflower seeds. Also, sunflower seeds are a good source of protein and fat for these birds
- Fruit – They can be fed apples, oranges, grapes, and other fruits that are not toxic to birds
Blue Jay will also eat small animals such as mice and lizards. It is best to avoid feeding these birds any meat products because they may contain parasites or diseases that could harm them if they are ingested.
It is recommended that you provide fresh water daily for your Blue Jay. Make sure it does not become dehydrated from lack of liquid intake (this can happen when drinking too much fruit juice).
You should also provide a shallow dish filled with sand or gravel where they can bathe themselves to keep their feathers clean and free from mud splatters while at playtime outdoors!
6. Where to Place the Blue Jay Feeder?
The best place to put the blue jay feeder is in a spot where they can approach it from all sides while at the same time being able to have a good view of their surroundings. They are very territorial birds and will try to chase other birds away from any area they feel belongs to them.
If your backyard has multiple trees or shrubs around, this might be an issue because each bird may want its own space!
You should consider putting two feeders out:
- One near each tree, so there’s no fighting over territory between species of wildflowers, making things easier on everyone involved (including yourself!)
- When placing your feeder, you also need room for landing areas; don’t put it right up against the house or some other structure that makes it hard for them to land on top of
- Ensure there are at least ten feet between any obstacles and where your feeder will go so they won’t have trouble landing while feeding on there!
- It’s best to place your feeder on a pole with three feet of clearance from the ground to avoid any squirrels getting into it (though some acrobatic ones may still try)
- Also, make sure all perches are at least two inches wide, which will help deter large birds like pigeons or crows, which might otherwise take over!
- You can also add baffles above and below your platform feeders if needed – remember, these little guys aren’t shy about fighting back when faced with the competition
7. How does Blue Jay find Feeders?
- Blue Jays have very good hearing and can hear the sound of nuts in shells being cracked open by other jays or squirrels
- They are also very intelligent birds and can easily recognize different types of food from previous experience
- Blue Jay is a curious bird and will explore its surroundings to find food. It has a good sense of sight and smells that help it locate feeders
- Blue Jay may also follow other birds to feeders, as they are known for being cooperative when finding food
Once it finds a feeder, Blue Jay will perch on it and eat the food available. This bird can be very aggressive when defending its territory or feeding spot, so keep an eye out if you have a feeder.
8. Birdbath for Blue JAY
During the summer, birdbaths are a vital source of water. However, they can also be a potential hazard if not properly placed and maintained.
If you want to attract blue jays, it’s best to avoid placing them in areas where there may be other predators, such as hawks or owls.
- You should also keep your birdbath clean by regularly changing its water supply so that birds don’t get sick from drinking contaminated liquids or eating dead insects or small rodents
- If you want to provide a birdbath for blue jays, make sure it is placed in an open area with plenty of nearby trees for perching
- The bath should be shallow and have a smooth surface to help the birds clean themselves
- You can also add a bit of vinegar or bleach to the water each time you refill it to further reduce any risk of mosquito larvae growth
Blue Jays need access to freshwater all year long and will appreciate having one nearby while they hunt around looking for food.
So, there you have it: a guide to help you identify and appreciate the beauty of blue jays. As with any bird, it’s important to be respectful and remember that they are wild animals and should not be approached or handled.
Enjoy watching these amazing creatures in your backyard or on a nature hike!
Thanks for reading! Check out some of our other bird guides, like this one on hummingbirds. And as always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We hope you enjoy spotting blue jays soon!