Blue Jays

(Cyanocitta cristata)



Blue Jays are some of the most colorful birds to nest in our backyards and to visit our feeders.

Considered by some to be a bully at the bird feeder, most birdwatchers welcome this beautiful blue and white bird to their yards.

Description:

Jays are medium to large sized ranging in length from 9 to 12 inches. Their crown and crest are gray-blue.

The wing and tail feathers are bright blue with white and black bands. Look for this birds narrow necklace of black feathers across the throat and around the head.

The upper parts are bluish gray and brightest on the rump.

The lower breast, belly, and vent area are off-white. The bill, legs, feet, and eyes, are black. They have the ability to raise and lower their crest. In low light the bird appears to be all gray.

Both male and female look alike.

Feeding Habits:

Their diet consists of a variety of foods. These birds are intelligent and adaptable, they are quick to take advantage of bird feeders.

Their winter diet consist mostly of vegetable matter, acorns, beechnuts, seeds and berries.

Other times they will feed on larger insects, grasshoppers, caterpillars, mice, bird eggs, and even baby birds.

Although they are known to rob nests of eggs and baby birds, only a very small percentage of their diet comes from these sources.

Typically, they are vegetarians and can be attracted to bird feeders with black oil sunflower seed and raw peanuts.

Often you will see them hold nuts with their feet and then crack the shell with their bill.

Blue jay

Courtship-Mating:

Beginning in early May, the courtship habits of Blue jays commence.

Generally a group of seven or more are gathered together in the top of a tree. One female is among this group.

When the female flies off, the males will follow and land near her.

Bobbing their heads up and down displaying for her.

The female will eventually select a mate from this group and the nesting cycle will follow.

Nesting Habits:

The nest is a bulky cup made of twigs, leaves, roots, grass, moss and sometimes held together by mud. Usually placed between 8 to 30 feet above ground.

You can try attracting Blue jays to nest in your backyard by having the right habitat.

The female lays 3 to 7 greenish buff, blue, or yellow eggs with brown or grey spots. Incubation last 17 to 18 days and is done primarily by the female although the male sometimes helps. The young will leave the nest in about 17 to 21 days after hatching. Both parents share in feeding the young birds.

1 - 2 broods are raised each season.

During nesting season, you may see Blue jays, but you rarely hear them as they go in stealth mode. About the only time you hear therm this time of year is when they sound the alarm that danger is near. (Other birds know this call as well).

Sometimes they sound a false alarm just so they can have your feeders without competition.

After the nesting season in late summer and early fall these birds will travel in small flocks and family groups.

Although only partially migratory (mainly a permanent resident) Blue jays sometimes flocks numbering over 100 can be spotted moving south.

Side Notes:

These birds are extremely territorial and oftentimes will dive at cats and dogs, even humans who get near nesting and feeding territories.

They can also imitate the sound of hawks and other birds.

Mainly found east of the Rocky Mountains and Southern Canada, Blue Jays have been declining in numbers, due in part from the reductions in forest and woodlands and West Nile Virus.

Sometimes you may see a bald headed Blue jay. Many experts believe the bird sheds its feathers to rid itself of lice and other parasitic insects.

Gray jays inhabit much of Canada and Scrub jays can be found in Florida.

Other Common Birds

Choose the Right Feeders

Blue Jays Love Sunflower Seeds

Feeding High Octane Peanuts

Fresh Water for All Your Wildlife

Trees for Nesting and Food

Shrubs for Protection and Food

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