As one of the most beautiful and intelligent birds of North America, Blue Jay is a household name. These birds live in southern Canada, the southeastern and central United States, with their range extending from Alberta, Canada to Florida, U.S. Their migration patterns have also shown that their western populations are more likely to migrate south during the winters, while their eastern populations are mostly annual residents.
These birds have captured the attention of Americans for centuries now. The very namesake of “Jay” is derived from the notion of their family being among the noisier and chattery birds. Early folklore traditions often integrated them as characters in their mythologies. Even today, Blue Jays are the symbol for the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team. Below, we have listed some of the most interesting things about Blue Jays!
10 Amazing Facts About Blue Jays
1. Blue Jays are related to Crows!
It’s sometimes hard to conceptualize that Crows are in the same larger family as Blue Jays, but it’s true. Belonging to the Corvidae family, these two species of birds shared a common ancestor at some point in history. While their colors aren’t similar, their similarities often lie in their strong beaks, long tails, and intelligence.
2. Blue Jays do not have consistent migratory patterns.
This is perhaps one of the more interesting facts about them. Throughout their range, only some populations migrate south during the winters, while the others generally stay back in their breeding grounds for the year. Studies have shown that younger Blue Jays are more likely to migrate than the older ones. It has been noted that if a bird migrates south on a certain year, they may not migrate again the following year.
3. Blue Jays are monogamous.
Blue Jays generally remain with their mates throughout their lives. Breeding seasons involve both members of the pair gathering materials for the nest and building it. The female is primarily responsible for incubating the eggs. During incubation, males tend to the females and feed them. The couple stays with their chicks for about 2-3 weeks before they abandon the nest site.
4. Blue Jays have a complex social system.
Blue Jays live within small familial groups. If they migrate, the whole group travels with them. While there is no understood consistency in the frequency of their migrations, these birds generally spend their lives with these groups. Pairs never separate and sometimes their children also join their group. Blue Jays have also been noted to condition the brooding chicks by refusing to feed them outside the nest.
5. Blue Jays are experts at mimicking.
The most fascinating part about these birds is their voice. Blue Jays can mimic just about anything that they are exposed to. These birds subsequently often alarm other birds of predators by mimicking the cries of hawks before they arrive. They have also been observed to mewl like a kitten sometimes, potentially to scatter other bird species away from common foraging grounds. Blue Jays that were raised in captivity were also observed to loosely mimic human speech.
6. Blue Jays can use tools!
One of the defining traits of their intelligence is their ability to use tools. Although they do not use them very often, birds in captivity have been observed to use bits of newspaper and sticks to bring their food closer to them. They can also engage in opportunistic behavior, often waiting for farmers to finish planting their seeds before flying down and eating them.
7.Blue Jays are very talkative!
Blue Jays constantly communicate with each other, evident from the wide variety and frequency with which they vocalize to one another. While a majority of their vocalizations have not been deciphered yet, a large variety has been noticed. This indicates that they are able to communicate much more than simple messages to each other.
8.Blue Jays generally have longer lives compared to other birds.
The oldest recorded Blue Jay was reportedly 26 years and 11 months at the time of its death. In contrast, most other species of wild Jays live for 7-20 years.
9.Blue Jays are not the fastest flyers and they tend to store food for later.
Blue Jays only fly at 20-25 miles an hour. They tend to take slower, more relaxed strides while in the air. This in tandem with their tendency to store acorns for the future gives them little incentive to travel for food. They are extremely adept at recognizing good quality acorns and can fly with up to 5 of them at once. It has been found that a Blue Jay may store anywhere between 3,000 and 5,000 acorns during a single fall.
10.Blue Jays are not blue!
This might come as a surprise, but scientifically, Blue Jays are not blue. The chemical compound that is responsible for their colors is a pigment called melanin. Melanin is brown in color but is scattered throughout the body in different magnitudes. As a result, when light hits the bird, it scatters and gives out different shades of blue.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Blue Jays
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Blue Jays are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.