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The Gregarious Blue Jay, Facts and Other Stories

Updated on September 16, 2014
Blue Jay
Blue Jay | Source

A Familiarity to Most People

“Thief! Thief! Thief!” or “Blurd-a-lert! Blurda-lert!”

Who recognizes those sounds without even glancing at the pictures? Why, just about everyone east of the Rockies knows those couple of familiar sounds. There are other varieties of sounds, too, loud ones, that make up the vocalizations of the Blue Jay.

Once a forest dweller, this bird has adapted to city living, gardens, parks, and fringed forest dwelling. Like the robin, some of these populations remain in areas year round, while more northern birds might head in a southerly direction in flocks of 50-100. Rather common despite frequent clear-cutting in eastern forests, its range has been heading northwesterly for years. This bird is very easy to identify, with its purple-blue coloring, purplish-blue crest, and large size.

Source

Habits

This noisy pest has been known to save the lives of other animals by loudly screaming at the sight of any potential predator within a half mile radius. They add more color and excitement than most native birds that I know. In comparison to their relatives, ravens and crows, they have relatively short wings, which only reach to the tail’s base. Seemingly, their flight is more colorful, and they dart around tree branches at rather high speed. Naturally, they use this skill to their advantage when people become annoyed with their raucous chatter or after they steal eggs from other bird’s nests. However, when all said and done, all these related birds do much more good than harm.

Living Arrangements and Feeding

Jays are usually in flocks or pairs, and are especially gregarious after nesting season. They prefer to live in oak or beech trees, but quite frankly, anything will do, as long as it is near food or water. They enjoy screaming at hunters, owls, cats, snakes, and hawks primarily, but they will also do the same around anything that they deem out of place. They are omnivorous, but the better part of their diet is vegetable and plant matter, most notably pine seeds, acorns, berries, fruit, and corn. Their protein is derived from frogs, snails, eggs and young of other birds, insects, and small reptiles and animals. They are responsible for starting many oak forests, as many of their acorns that they cache in the ground for winter use are never recovered again.

Nesting and the Young

Blue jays are monogamous and solitary nesters, though several mates are known to be kept for many years. The male feeds the female during courtship.

Incubation is around 17 days and is accomplished by both sexes, though the female is usually in charge. They have one brood yearly in the northern climes and two or three in the south.

Feathered and older orphaned young are just like their parents when feeding. They are never silent! They are always chattering most of the time when they are awake.

A Jay Experience

A few years ago, in central PA, I recall a couple of jays having a physical disagreement in winter. One was knocked on his back, and was unable to extricate himself from the snow. He stopped moving. To prevent a fatal outcome, I picked him up and uprighted him. He was so dazed, that he was unable to fly properly, striking the house. I then placed him in some shrubbery where I could observe him. He stayed put for approximately an hour, then flew off. Luckily, a disaster was avoided.

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Favorite Foods and a Factoid

Jays will visit your feeders if you provide peanuts either shelled or unshelled, suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and cracked nuts. They also enjoy a birdbath or two.

These birds are great imitators, like the mockingbird. I have known them to sound like hawks and owls. Most of the time, they are trying to get the smaller birds to hide, so they can get the prime food from feeders. It sure works!

Adult Blue Jay
Adult Blue Jay | Source
Source
Juvenile Blue Jay
Juvenile Blue Jay | Source

© 2012 Deb Hirt

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jatinder Joshi, you are most welcome. I aways enjoyed these wonderful birds, who are keenly aware of all that surrounds them.

    • Jatinder Joshi profile image

      Jatinder Joshi 3 years ago from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

      I just photographed a couple of blue jays in our backyard in Whitby, Ontario. They are noisy but look beautiful.

      Thanks for sharing the information.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for the votes, moonlake! Yes, they are wonderful birds, and have great personalities.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Their a bright color on our feeder in the winter, we enjoy them. Interesting hub voted up.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Meldz! Between Blue Jays and Cardinals, I don't know which I like to see best during the winter.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Thanks Deb! I really enjoy looking at them during winter time.

      Voted up and more. :-)

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They are tough little guys, that's for sure. They will stand up to eagles and hawks, they have no fear.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Nice article. Our bluejays here are really brave. They try to beat up my dogs!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I know precisely what you mean, Connie. They are such characters, almost like kids playing.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Hi Deb! Nice article about the blue jays that I love. Despite their raucousness, they are beautiful. I put out day old bread for them when it's cold like it has been this week. I have 6 that come on a regular basis. Two of them seem to be at the top of the hierarchy and everyone scatters in their presence. The others wait their turn not very patiently. Sometimes they chase each other and try to grab the prize. So much fun to watch them, and hear them imitate the hawks around here. Voted Up & Interesting

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      If you make it out this way, I could show you some. I have never seen the Stellar's Jays.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is interesting, Deb. I enjoyed learning about blue jays. Where I live on the west of the Rockies we have Steller's jays, which are also interesting and noisy birds! I'd like to observe wild blue jays some time, though.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Debbie! You are so right. The jays have their own agenda, yet don't really feel offended if we don't come along.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Hi Deb, I love blue jays although they can make quite a racket and chase other birds away from their turf. It seems like they have so much personality!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Bill! I keep a close watch on the birds in my area, so I can always tell if something is amiss or not. In my absence, the crows will handle that for me. Be careful of jays around songbirds, for they will eat their eggs, if given a chance.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Oh, yes, Cyndy, they get used to a routine, and will live by it, just like clockwork. They never shut up!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Carol, good to see you. Here's hoping that all is well, and I'm glad that I was able to improve your day a bit with the world of the Blue Jay!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jim, I have not been able to meet any of them, but I would sure like to do so. They are all wonderful birds.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Any time, Martin! Speaking of rap, I wonder if they might move to that sound...

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jackie, they are characters in their own right. I have always loved them and their antics.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They are east of the Rockies. I believe you have the Stellars Jays? Take a look of the photos on line and let me know for sure, if you don't mind.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Deb, what a touching story of how you saved the Jay in the snow. I love watching these colorful birds and they are plentiful here in western Massachusetts. Enjoyed reading.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Bluejays are so beautiful! I first learned about them from a neighbor who would go out and call them and feed them every morning. They'd chatter and their blue feathers were unmistakable. Interesting facts you've presented here. ;)

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I loved reading this and learning something new. I love the blue jays and you captured with lovely photos. Those little birds are pretty smart to know to imitate. thanks for sharing all this voting up+++

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      This is great Deb (again)! We have the California Scrub Jay here, and in higher elevations, the Stellar Jay, then in the Cascades, the Gray Jay or Camp Robber who is bold enough to land on you if you have bread. They all behave as you desribe more or less, the Scrub Jay is the loudest.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, we have jays in my yard. Thank you for their rap sheet. :))

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I sure know these birds and as you say probably everyone does. They favor a pine of mine and now I understand why. I watch them from a kitchen window very often and have enjoyed them all my life I imagine. If I was a female jay who could read I would fly north! Thanks for a fun read!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Are they just east of the Rockies? I thought we had them here? Oh well, I bow to your knowledge. Very interesting info Deb!

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