Blue JayCyanocitta cristata

adult
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
nestlings
Fred Truslow/VIREO
immature (1st summer
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Blue Jay

Description

12" (30 cm). Bright blue above with much white and black in the wings and tail; dingy white below; black facial markings; prominent crest.

Voice

A raucous jay-jay, harsh cries, and a rich variety of other calls. One is almost identical to the scream of the Red-shouldered Hawk and the calls of Broad-winged HawkAlso a musical queedle-queedle.

Listen

ringing squeaks
jay calls & clicks
jay calls
piping notes #3
nasal notes & jay calls
jay & jay-jay calls
red-shouldered hawk imitation
piping calls of courting group
piping notes #2
squeaks
various calls of group with rattles
musical twee-dee
piping notes #1
nasal notes, squeaky calls and jay calls

Habitat

Chiefly oak forest, but now also city parks and suburban yards, especially where oak trees predominate.

Range

Resident east of Rockies, from southern Canada to Gulf of Mexico. Slowly encroaching westward.

Discussion

Although sometimes disliked because they chase smaller birds away from feeders, Blue Jays are among the handsomest of birds. They often bury seeds and acorns, and since many are never retrieved they are, in effect, tree planters. They regularly mob predators, and their raucous screaming makes it easy to locate a hawk or a roosting owl. Although seen all year, they are migratory and travel in large loose flocks in spring and fall. Birds from farther north replace local populations in winter.

Nesting

4-6 brown-spotted greenish eggs in a coarsely built nest of sticks, lined with grass and well concealed in a crotch or forked branch of a tree, often a conifer.

Similar Species

adult

Northern Mockingbird

9-11" (23-28 cm). Robin-sized. A slender, long-tailed gray bird with white patches on wings and tail.

adult (Interior)

Western Scrub-Jay

11-13" (28-33 cm). Robin-sized, but large strong bill and long tail make it appear larger.

adult

Florida Scrub-Jay

11" (28 cm). Robin-sized, but large strong bill and long tail make it appear larger.

adult, Western

Mexican Jay

11 1/2 -13" (29-33 cm). Similar to scrub-jays but larger and more muted, without white markings on throat or above eyes. Dull blue head, rump, wings, and tail; gray back and dusky ear patch.

adult, Pacific NW

Steller's Jay

12-13 1/2" (30-34 cm). The only western jay with a crest. Front half of bird sooty black, rear dark blue-gray, with tight black crossbarring on secondaries and tail.

adult

Green Jay

12" (30 cm). Strikingly colored, with bright green body and green tail with yellow on the sides; brilliant blue crown and cheeks; rest of head, throat, and breast black.

adult

Pinyon Jay

9-11 3/4" (23-30 cm). A stocky, short-tailed jay. Long slender bill gives it a resemblance to Clark's Nutcracker. Gray-blue, darkest on head, with white streaking on throat.

Vireo

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