Blue Jay Facts | Blue Jay Behavior, Migration, Diet & Habitat

Few birds evoke such vivid-and-striking appearance as blue jay has. Blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) has long been recognized as a songbird with fairly noise calls. They are social and intelligent birds and fancy living in strong family bonds. They are almost equal in size to that of Western scrub-jay. Here i have gathered some of the least known blue jay facts. These are also known as Chara azul (Spanish) and Geai bleu (French). Blue jays remain active most of the time, when a predator enters the woods she will announce far and wide by loud-mouthed. According to Audubon, “Who could imagine that a form so graceful arrayed by nature in a garb so resplendent, should harbor so much mischief.”

Blue jays will occupy almost every bird-feeder east of Rocky Mountains. They do not consume all the acorns they take rather they start burying acorns in large numbers than those eaten. This is for a simple reason, since acorns are not present all year-round, blue jays have to store them for later feeding. Acorns disappear typically in late summer. This allows jays to reproduce in a better way even when the food is not abundant. This acorn-eating-habit makes jays the predator of oaks. Were it not for the seed-chasing behavior of the birds, the oaks would reproduce less successfully.

Blue Jay Facts

  • Blue jay measures around 9.8 – 11.8 inches (25 – 30 cm) in length.
  • The wingspan measures around 34 – 43 cm (13.4 – 16.9 inches).
  • Blue jay weighs around 70 – 100 grams (2.5 – 3.5 oz).
  • Blue jays migrate in flocks consisting thousands of individuals around the Atlantic coasts and great Lakes. However, most of their migrations are still a mystery. Few of these species, however, do not migrate as they are present all year round. The young jays migrate in large numbers as compared to adults.
  • They also feed on nestlings and eggs of other birds but we are not sure how common this habit is among jays. Blue jays primarily feed on nuts and insects which also form their regular diet.
  • These colorful birds are talented enough mimic calls of hawks with Red-shouldered hawk in particular. These sounds help other jays to keep alert from hawks.
  • They are known to lower their crests while feeding in flocks. Blue jays are often dominated by Common Grackles, Red-headed Woodpeckers, gray squirrels, and Florida Scrub-jays in the feeders in Florida.
  • Blue jay is bold and noisy bird; flies around 32 – 40 km/h when disturbed. The slow flight of jays makes them easy prey for predators that tend to catch them during flight. Some of the most common blue jay’s predators are cats, opossums, crows, snakes, tree squirrels, Accipiter hawks, and raccoons.
  • Sometimes, they may sound beneficial to other birds in that they scream all around when predators are nearby. Blue jays often become aggressive towards human when they approach their nests. Seldom do they attack smaller birds.
  • Being highly curious, blue jays are one of the most intelligent birds like corvids.
  • The longest lived blue jay was 17 years and 6 months old.
  • They are often referred to as ‘Nest-robber’.
  • They are capable to store acorns in their mouth. Blue jays can also store 5 acorns at a time for later feeding.
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Blue Jay
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Where Do Blue Jays Live

Blue Jay Habitat

Blue jays fancy living in almost all kinds of forests particularly adjacent to oak trees; they are found in large numbers at forest edges than in deep forest. Blue jay also occupies some of the urban and suburban areas. Blue jays dwell in a wide variety of habitats including fir forests of northern Ontario and pine woods of Florida. It is present in fewer numbers in thick forests, beeches, oaks and fancy living in the mixed woodlands.

Blue Jay Distribution

Blue jay inhabits all throughout eastern and central USA south to Florida, southern Canada, and northeastern Texas. Recently the blue jay’s range got extended to northwestwards and is seldom found flying in the southern Canadian Pacific Coast and northern US ranging from Midwest to the eastern coastal regions. The species living in the northernmost are most likely to migrate subject to necessity. Thousands of these birds are known to migrate in flocks along the Atlantic coasts and Great Lakes; all these migrations take place in daytime. Scientists are not sure as to why they migrate when they do.

What do Blue Jays Eat | Blue Jays Diet

They are opportunistic omnivore and will consume anything come in its way. Blue jays predominantly feed on nuts, insects, seeds in shrubs and trees on the ground; they also consume grains. They often eat injured and dead small vertebrates. Occasionally they also raid nests for nestlings and eggs and also found picking dead adult birds. Blue jays diet is composed of 22% of insects while the remainder constitutes grains, nuts, fruits, acorns, and grains.  They have robust bills normally used for cracking acorns and nuts while holding them with their feet. The jay’s diet encompasses all types of animal and plants sources such as weed seeds, peanuts, meat, bread, fruits, grains, berries, sometimes eggs and nestlings.

Blue Jay Behavior | Blue Jay Facts

Blue color is more obvious on the blue jay’s plumage with the rest of the plumage displays white, gray, and black. They generally communicate with one another by using body language and sounds. They have a range of vocalisations with diverse vocabulary. These birds are supreme mimics. When in captivity, they can learn to imitate human speech or meowing cats. However, in the wild, blue jays often mimic the voice of Red-tailed hawks or Red-shouldered hawks. Some people do not like blue jays probably out their (bird’s) aggressive nature.

Nest-Building | Blue Jay Facts For Kids

Blue jay uses diverse kinds of materials for building nests such as twigs, grass, lined with rootlets. They build nests in the dense branches of coniferous tree which is usually 20 – 25 feet above the ground. Both parents contribute towards making of a nest but females do most of the construction. Twigs that are used at the external part of the nest usually taken from live trees. They travel great distances in order to seek fresh graves in cemeteries, rootlets, or sometimes newly trees fallen. They may not build their nests once the predator is nearby.

Blue Jay facts | Blue jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay Reproduction

The female alone incubates her eggs while her male partner offers her food during incubation. The hatching period lasts for 8 – 12 days. Some broods are often found 10 – 15 feet away from the nest couple of days before they actually fledge out. Parents do not feed their nestlings outside the nest even when they beg loudly. This is why sometimes blue jays nests are found abandoned.

  • The broods fledge out after 17 – 21 days period.
  • The clutch size comprises 2 – 7 eggs.
  • The female lays around 3 – 6 eggs.
  • The length of an egg measures around 2.5-3.3 cm (1 – 1.3 inch), together with the width of 1.8 – 2.2 cm (0.7 – 0.9 inch).
  • The incubation period lasts for 17 – 18 days.
  • The nestling period lasts for 17 – 21 days.
  • The eggs are bluish and light brown color with brown spots.
  • The litters are born blind, helpless and naked.

Subspecies

  • Northern Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata bromia
  • Coastal Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata cristata
  • Interior Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra
  • Florida blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata semplei

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