One of the biggest birds that you’ll see on our campus is the Blue Jay:
(Original image is a part of the public domain)
What they look like: Blue Jays are fairly big. They are light colored on their underside and have patterns of blue, gray, white, and black above.They have a crest on their heads and wide square tails. Their wingspan averages 13-16 inches. Many blue jays have bands of black around their neck and the back of their heads.
Where you’ll see him: Blue Jays live year round in the eastern and central U.S. and part of Canada. In the winter, they also live in part of Texas and Northern Mexico. Blue Jays like cities, the edges of forests, and towns. They nest in trees, but get food on the ground, similar to the Rufus-Sided Towhee. Blue Jays like oak trees and bird feeders.
What they eat: Blue Jays mostly eat nuts, fruits, seeds, and insects, as well as grains. They can be cannibals, eating dead adult birds and some baby birds or eggs. They don’t eat many eggs- egg fragments were only found in a few Blue Jay stomachs. They hold food items between their feet as they eat it.
What they sound like: These birds have many vocals- some being clicks, clucks, whines, liquid notes, and whirrs. They often sing more than two minutes. The most common call is a loud jeer. They like to mimic hawks, especially red-shouldered hawks.
Other interesting facts: Tools are never made by wild blue jays, but some captive blue jays use paper to get food pellets from outside their cage. The pigment in blue jay feathers is brown, but scattering light causes them to look blue.
Where you can learn more:
Written by Lara K, Shea D, and Abby W