Blue Jay

 

Common Name:Blue Jay

Class:Aves

Order:Passeriformes

Family:Corvidae

Genus:Cyanocita

Species:Cyanocitta cristata

Photo: Ivan Andrijevic

 

TAXONOMY

 

Blue Jays are passerines in the Corvidae family which groups them together with Crows, Jays and Magpies. They are known for being aggressive towards other birds. Blue Jays are 11.5 inches (29 cm) in size. They are monochromatic which means that males and females are similar in appearance. They have blue upperparts and white underparts and a blue crest. Blue Jays have a black collar, eyeline and necklace. They have bright blue wings with black bars and white corners. Over the past 100 years, Blue Jays have become very tolerant of humans.

 

 

Photo: Nick Glabicky

HABITAT/DIET

 

Blue Jays live in a great range of woodlands including deciduous, coniferous, mixed forests and also in urban areas such as in towns and residential areas. They prefer those with large oaks or other mast-producing trees. Blue Jays live year-round from south Canada to southern Florida and from the Atlantic Ocean to central Texas. Flocks of 5,000 Blue Jays will gather at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario before they migrate south over Lake Erie.

 

The diet of the Blue Jay consists of insects, carrion, bird eggs and acorns. They forage mainly by picking up items from the ground. They prefer to eat acorns and nuts from trees and will commonly cache these nuts for later. Also, large and hard foods like nuts, dragonflies and eggs will be held by the Blue Jay's feet and will be broken when the Jay hammers it with their beak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: M. Noonan

BEHAVIOR

 

Blue Jays have a monogamous mating system and up to 2 broods per season in the north and up to 3 in the south. Both sexes will construct the cup shaped nest on horizontal branch. Occasionally, they will take nests from other passerines. The female lays 4-5 eggs and incubates them for 16-18 days with some help from the male. Young have altricial development which means they are blind, helpless and immobile. Both parents care for young for 17-21 days after hatching.

 

Photo: M. Noonan

WHERE TO FIND THEM

 

Blue Jays are commonly seen by feeders near in a large variety of woodlands and even in urban areas. This bird is usually seen in pairs or small groups and they are permanent residents of WNY.

 

Photo: M. Noonan

 

Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.