Bird of the Week: Blue Jay


1. There are four subspecies of Blue Jay:

  • Northern Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata bromia): Largest of all Blue Jay subspecies. Found from Southern Canada to Northern United States.

  • Coastal Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata cristata): Medium sized, most vivid colors. Found from North Carolina down the Atlantic Coast and east into Texas.

  • Western Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra): Medium sized. Found from Wyoming and Nebraska to Western Kansas, Oklahoma and Northern Texas

  • Florida Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata semplei): Smallest of all Blue Jay subspecies. Only found in Southern Florida


      2. Blue Jays communicate their mood with the crest of feathers at the top of their head, when excited or agitated the crest will raise, when relaxed, with family, tending to nestlings, and feeding the crest will lay flat against the head.

       Blue Jay Crest

      Blue Jay Crest


      3. Blue Jay feathers lose their signature blue color when crushed because the blue color isn’t derived from pigments but rather microscopic structures on the surface of the feathers. This same phenomenon, known as “structured coloration” is also true of other blue-colored birds like the Indigo Bunting.

       Blue Jay Feathers

      Blue Jay Feathers


      4. Unlike most species of bird there isn’t a noticeable difference in appearance between male and female Blue Jays.


      5. Blue Jays are a member of the corvid family – members of this family are regarded as some of the most intelligent and curious species of animals in the world.


      6. Blue Jays impersonate the calls of Red Tailed and Red-Shouldered Hawks to make competitors (usually other birds or small rodents) flee areas where sought-after food is present. Blue Jays will also chase these animals away from food sources – including bird feeders, especially if the feeders offer their favorite treat – peanuts.


      Blue Jay eating Peanut

      Blue Jay with Peanut


      7. Blue Jays mate for life and appear to live with their mate throughout the year.


      8. Blue Jays have a negative reputation for raiding the nests of other bird species and destroying/eating their eggs. For this reason, many species of bird will mob attack Blue Jay who come close to their nests. Although, recent studies indicate that “birds” make up a minuscule part of a Blue Jay’s diet – which is mostly composed of nuts, seeds, and insects.


      9. If a Blue Jay notices a predatory bird nearby (hawk or owl), it will often loudly scream and even chase/mob attack the predator. This alerts and ends up benefiting other animals (like small rodents and other birds) who are also targets of predatory birds. Blue Jays are most alert and aggressive while breeding.

       Blue Jay with Acorn

      Blue Jay with Acorn

      10. A study found that Blue Jay may cache 3,000 to 5,000 acorns (their favorite source of wild food) per autumn season, which supports the scientific theory that Blue Jays were instrumental in spreading Oak trees after the last glacial period.


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