|Size:||Length: 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 cm)|
|Weight:||3.25 ounces (92 g)|
|Diet:||Mainly fruit, nuts and corn, sometimes insects, eggs and young birds|
|Distribution:||Canada and the United States|
|Young:||4 to 6 chicks, two or three times a year|
|Animal Predators:||Cats, dogs, foxes, coyotes, hawks and owls|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Lifespan:||10 to 15 years in the wild|
· The blue jay is the provincial bird of Prince Edward Island.
· Jays have a wide variety of calls, including a musical whistle that sounds like “kloo-loo-loo,” and a piercing “jay-jay-jay.”
· Jays, magpies and ravens are part of the crow family.
With their bright blue and white markings, blue jays are among the most beautiful birds in their range. They have a crest that lays flat against their head, but which will rise when frightened or excited. Their bill, legs, feet and eyes are black. Male and female blue jays are alike in appearance, and they are a little larger than American robins. Blue jays have heavy bills and can open a nut by holding it beneath their claws, then pecking open the shell.
Blue jays live in southern Canada and as far south as Texas and Florida. They live anywhere where trees are in abundance, such as forested areas, but have also become common in farmland, parks, towns and suburbs. They are at home in close proximity to people and have little fear of them, calling out to scold them or to ask for food. In the northernmost parts of their range, some blue jays may be migratory, flying several hundred kilometres south before the winter cold sets in.
Blue jays mainly feed on vegetable material such as fruit, nuts and corn, with the remainder being insects, eggs and young birds of other species.
Jays mate for life and sing a continuous sweet warble during courtship. When preparing for the birth of their young, the male begins feeding his mate. The couple build their nest together, placing it high up within a tree. This provides a thick cover, thus making sure it is not visible to predators. They then fly an indirect route to get to it, through vines and in and out of other tree branches before quietly approaching their nest. Jays have several different sounds and with their mate in or around the nest, will communicate with a “whisper call.” The female and male take turns sitting on the brown-spotted, bluish-green eggs for 16 to 18 days until they hatch. Young jays are grey in colour and 17 to 20 days after hatching, are ready to begin flying. In three weeks they start to find food themselves, but they stay with their parents for two to four months more. Young jays love brightly coloured objects like aluminium foil or bottle caps and carry them around, playing with them or sitting on top of them, until they get tired of the object and leave it behind.
Blue jays are extremely helpful in keeping the insect population down and, along with squirrels, they are also responsible for much reforestation as they bury acorns under the forest floor and often forget to go back for them, resulting in a growth spurt of new trees. Blue jays have a loud call and will warn other birds and animals within the vicinity if they feel danger is near. They are known for being curious, aggressive and intelligent birds. In order to gain access to other birds’ nests to get at their eggs or chicks, blues jays mimic the call of a hawk in order to frighten the other birds away.
Blue jays are not a conservation concern.
Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1999). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1999).
Kaufman, K. (2000) Birds of North America, Houghton Mifflin