Blue jay

Cyanocitta cristata

The blue jay is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It is resident through most of eastern and central United States and southern Canada, although western populations may be migratory. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common near and in residential areas. It is predominately blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies of the blue jay are recognized.

The blue jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. Like squirrels, blue jays are known to hide nuts for later consumption. It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. Young are altricial, and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching. They may remain with their parents for one to two months.

The bird's name derives from its noisy, garrulous nature. It is sometimes called a "jaybird".
Blue Jay On the look out, a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) surveys the area at the bird feeders of Shirleys Bay, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Blue Jay,Blue jay,Canada,Cyanocitta cristata,Geotagged,Ontario,Ottawa,Shirleys Bay,Spring

Appearance

The blue jay measures 22–30 cm from bill to tail and weighs 70–100 g , with a wingspan of 34–43 cm . Jays from Connecticut averaged 92.4 g in mass, while jays from southern Florida averaged 73.7 g . There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird's mood. When excited or aggressive, the crest may be fully raised. When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike. When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting, the crest is flattened to the head.

Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are nearly identical, but the male is a little larger.

As with most other blue-hued birds, the blue jay's coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed. This is referred to as structural coloration.
Blue Jays A pair of Blue Jays (Sitta carolinensis) hang out on the railing of the boardwalk of the marsh at the Jack Pine Trail, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Blue Jays,Blue jay,Canada,Cyanocitta cristata,Geotagged,Jack Pine Trail,Ontario,Ottawa,Summer,birds

Naming

Four subspecies are generally accepted, though the variation within this species is rather subtle and essentially clinal. No firm boundaries can be drawn between the inland subspecies. The ranges of the coastal races are better delimited.
⤷  ''Cyanocitta cristata bromia'' – Northern blue jay
⟶ Canada and northern USA. The largest subspecies, with fairly dull plumage. Blue is rather pale.
⤷  ''Cyanocitta cristata cristata'' – Coastal blue jay
⟶ Coastal USA from North Carolina to Texas, except southern Florida. Mid-sized and vivid blue.
⤷  ''Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra'' – Interior blue jay
⟶ Inland USA, intergrading with ''C. c. bromia'' to the north. Mid-sized, quite dark blue on mantle contrasting cleanly with very white underside.
⤷  ''Cyanocitta cristata semplei'' – Florida blue jay
⟶ Southern Florida. The smallest subspecies, much like ''C. c. bromia'' in color.
Blue Jay                                 Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata,Geotagged,United States

Distribution

The blue jay occurs from southern Canada through the eastern and central USA south to Florida and northeastern Texas. The western edge of the range stops where the arid pine forest and scrub habitat of the closely related Steller's jay begins. Recently, the range of the blue jay has extended northwestwards so that it is now a rare but regularly seen winter visitor along the northern US and southern Canadian Pacific Coast. As the two species' ranges now overlap, ''C. cristata'' may sometimes hybridize with Steller's jay.

The northernmost subspecies ''C. c. bromia'' is migratory, subject to necessity. It may withdraw several hundred kilometers south in the northernmost parts of its range. Thousands of blue jays have been observed to migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts. It migrates during the daytime, in loose flocks of 5 to 250 birds. Much about their migratory behavior remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. To date, no one has concretely worked out why they migrate when they do. Likely, it is related to weather conditions and how abundant the winter food sources are, which can determine whether other northern birds will move south.

The blue jay occupies a variety of habitats within its large range, from the pine woods of Florida to the spruce-fir forests of northern Ontario. It is less abundant in denser forests, preferring mixed woodlands with oaks and beeches. It has expertly adapted to human activity, occurring in parks and residential areas, and can adapt to wholesale deforestation with relative ease if human activity creates other means for the jays to get by.
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata) staring at a Gray Squirrel (sciurus carolinensis) I can only speculate as to what is going through the blue jays mind. Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata,bird,blue jay,gray squirrel,squirrel

Behavior

The blue jay is a noisy, bold and aggressive passerine. It is a moderately slow flier ) when unprovoked. It flies with body and tail held level, with slow wing beats.
Due to its slow flying speeds, this species makes easy prey for hawks and owls when flying in open areas. Virtually all the raptorial birds sympatric in distribution with the blue jay may predate it, especially swift bird-hunting specialists such as the ''Accipiter'' hawks. Diverse predators may predate jay eggs and young up to their fledging stage, including tree squirrels, snakes, cats, crows, raccoons, opossums, other jays and possibly many of the same birds of prey who attack adults.

The blue jay can be beneficial to other bird species, as it may chase predatory birds, such as hawks and owls, and will scream if it sees a predator within its territory. It has also been known to sound an alarm call when hawks or other dangers are near, and smaller birds often recognize this call and hide themselves away accordingly. It may occasionally impersonate the calls of raptors, especially those of the red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, possibly to test if a hawk is in the vicinity, though also possibly to scare off other birds that may compete for food sources. It may also be aggressive towards humans who come close to its nest, and if an owl roosts near the nest during the daytime the blue jay mobs it until it takes a new roost. However, blue jays have also been known to attack or kill other smaller birds and sleeping, foliage-roosting bat species such as Lasiurus borealis. Jays are very territorial birds, and they will chase others from a feeder for an easier meal. Additionally, the blue jay may raid other birds' nests, stealing eggs, chicks, and nests. However, this may not be as common as is typically thought, as only 1% of food matter in one study was compromised by birds. Despite this, other passerines may still mob jays who come within their breeding territories.

Blue jays, like other corvids, are highly curious and are considered intelligent birds. Young individuals playfully snatch brightly colored or reflective objects, such as bottle caps or pieces of aluminum foil, and carry them around until they lose interest. While not confirmed to have engaged in tool use in the wild, blue jays in captivity have been observed using strips of newspaper as tools to obtain food, while captive fledglings have been observed attempting to open the door to their cages
Blue Jays - Cyanocitta cristata Here is the pair...The male was chasing around the female. She would flutter her wings dramatically, and then he would feed her.  It was so sweet <3

Habitat: Rural yard
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/78273/blue_jay_-_cyanocitta_cristata.html Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata,Geotagged,Spring,United States

Habitat

The blue jay occurs from southern Canada through the eastern and central USA south to Florida and northeastern Texas. The western edge of the range stops where the arid pine forest and scrub habitat of the closely related Steller's jay begins. Recently, the range of the blue jay has extended northwestwards so that it is now a rare but regularly seen winter visitor along the northern US and southern Canadian Pacific Coast. As the two species' ranges now overlap, ''C. cristata'' may sometimes hybridize with Steller's jay.

The northernmost subspecies ''C. c. bromia'' is migratory, subject to necessity. It may withdraw several hundred kilometers south in the northernmost parts of its range. Thousands of blue jays have been observed to migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts. It migrates during the daytime, in loose flocks of 5 to 250 birds. Much about their migratory behavior remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. To date, no one has concretely worked out why they migrate when they do. Likely, it is related to weather conditions and how abundant the winter food sources are, which can determine whether other northern birds will move south.

The blue jay occupies a variety of habitats within its large range, from the pine woods of Florida to the spruce-fir forests of northern Ontario. It is less abundant in denser forests, preferring mixed woodlands with oaks and beeches. It has expertly adapted to human activity, occurring in parks and residential areas, and can adapt to wholesale deforestation with relative ease if human activity creates other means for the jays to get by.
A Noble View  Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata

Reproduction

The mating season begins in mid-March, peaks in mid-April to May, and extends into July. Any suitable tree or large bush may be used for nesting, though an evergreen is preferred. The nest is preferentially built at a height in the trees of 3 to 10 m . It is cup-shaped and composed of twigs, small roots, bark strips, moss, other plant material, cloth, paper, and feathers, with occasional mud added to the cup.

Blue jays are not very picky about nesting locations. If no better place is available – e.g. in a heavily deforested area – they will even use places like the large mailboxes typical of the rural United States. They also appropriate nests of other mid-sized songbirds as long as these are placed in suitable spots; American robin nests are commonly used by blue jays, for example.


Blue jays typically form monogamous pair bonds for life. Both sexes build the nest and rear the young, though only the female broods them. The male feeds the female while she is brooding the eggs. There are usually between 3 and 6 eggs laid and incubated over 16–18 days. The young fledge usually between 17–21 days after hatching.

After the juveniles fledge, the family travels and forages together until early fall, when the young birds disperse to avoid competition for food during the winter. Sexual maturity is reached after one year of age. Blue jays have been recorded to live for more than 26 years in captivity and one wild jay was found to have been around 17 and a half years old. A more common lifespan for wild birds that survive to adulthood is around 7 years. Beyond predation and the occasional collision with man-made objects, a common cause of mortality in recent decades has been the West Nile Virus, which corvids as a whole seem especially subceptible to. However, despite several major local declines, overall blue jays have not seemed to have been depleted by the disease.
Bluejay  Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata

Food

Blue jays have strong black bills which they use for cracking nuts and acorns, usually while holding them with their feet, and for eating corn, grains and seeds. Its food is sought both on the ground and in trees and includes virtually all known types of plant and animal sources, such as acorns and beech mast, weed seeds, grain, fruits and other berries, peanuts, bread, meat, small invertebrates of many types, scraps in town parks, bird-table food and rarely eggs and nestlings. Blue jays will sometimes cache food, though to what extent differs widely among individuals. Although seemingly contentious in their general behavior, Blue jays are frequently subservient to other medium-sized birds who visit bird-feeders. In Florida, Blue jays were dominated at feeders by Eastern gray squirrels, Florida scrub-jays, common grackles and red-headed woodpeckers, all of which were occasionally observed to aggressively prevent the jays from feeding.
Bluejay Can birds read? I don't know, but an expression such as this is priceless. Blue jay,Cyanocitta cristata

Cultural

In old African American folklore of the southern United States the blue jay was held to be a servant of the Devil, and "was not encountered on a Friday as he was fetching sticks down to Hell; furthermore, he was so happy and chirpy on a Saturday as he was relieved to return from Hell".

The blue jay was adopted as the team symbol of the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team, as well as some of their minor-league affiliates. Their mascot is Ace, also a blue jay.

Mordecai, an anthropomorphic blue jay, is one of the main characters of the cartoon series ''Regular Show''.

The blue jay is featured in Mark Twain's "A Tramp Abroad", Chapter 3 "Baker,s Blue-Jay Yarn".

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyCorvidae
GenusCyanocitta
SpeciesC. cristata