Blue Jay Information, Photos & Facts

Blue jays are highly beneficial to other flora and fauna in their ecosystem: their characteristic 'jay' call warns other birds of predators, and their fondness of acorns is credited with spreading oak forests across North America.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a large, crested songbird native to North America with bright blue coloration. Blue jays are known to be beautiful, intelligent, and highly aggressive birds. American Expedition is proud to present information, facts, habitat info, bird feeding tips and pictures of the Blue Jay.

Blue jay facts, information, habitat, and bird feeding tips from American Expedition.

Blue Jay Information

Blue jays are large for songbirds, typically measuring between 9 and 12 inches long, and weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 ounces. Distinguishing characteristics of the blue jay include the pronounced blue crest on their heads, which the blue jay may lower and raise depending on mood, and which will bristle outward when the bird is being aggressive or becomes frightened. Blue jays sport colorful blue plumage on their crest, wings, back, and tail. Their face is typically white, and they have an off-white underbelly. They have a black-collared neck, and the black extends down the sides of their heads - their bill, legs, and eyes are also all black. Their wings and tail have black, sky-blue, and white bars. Male and female blue jays are nearly identical.

Blue jays typically live in small flocks, and are highly protective of their nesting site. When flying alone, blue jays are subject to predation by hawks, eagles, and other raptors, however when in groups they will 'mob' much larger birds in order to fight them off. Blue Jays can imitate calls of their predators, especially hawks, and may use these calls to test whether or not these predators are in the area. They will also occasionally use these calls to scare other birds away from food sources that the blue jays have come across. In addition to raptors, blue jays may attack other animals, including humans, which come too close to their nests.


Blue Jay Facts

  • The coloration of the blue jay comes from light interference due to the internal structure of their feathers - if a feather is crushed, it will not maintain its blue coloration.
  • Blue jays are highly curious birds, and young blue jays have been known to play with bottle caps and aluminum foil.
  • Blue jays breed from mid-March to July.
  • Blue jays prefer to nest in evergreen trees and shrubs 10 to 35 feet off the ground.
  • Blue jays typically form monogamous pairs and stay together for life.
  • Blue jays normally fly at speeds of 20-25 miles per hour.
  • Blue jay eggs may be predated by squirrel, cats, crows, snakes, raccoons, possums, hawks, and various raptors and mammals.
  • There are four subspecies of blue jay: the northern blue jay, which live in Canada and the northern U.S. and has fairly dull plumage and pale blue coloration; the coastal blue jay, which lives on the southern coast of the eastern united states and is vivid blue; the interior blue jay, which lives throughout the midwest U.S.; and the Florida blue jay, the smallest subspecies, which is similar in color to the northern blue jay.

Blue Jay Habitat

Blue jays live in deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests throughout the eastern and central areas of the United States, and southern Canada. They also can be found in parks and suburban residential areas, and are frequent guests of backyard bird feeders.

Some blue jays are permanent residents of their range, but others will form into flocks ranging between 5 and 250 in order to migrate southwards. Much of blue jay migratory behavior remains a mystery - some blue jays may migrate one year, then stay in their home range the next, then migrate another year. Some people have theorized that blue jays may migrate if their winter food sources become scarce, or if weather conditions are harsh. It has been found that younger blue jays are more likely to migrate than adults, however it could be that the jays most likely to survive to older age are those that don't migrate as frequently.

What Do Blue Jays Eat?

Blue jays have very strong black bills, which can crack nuts and acorns. Additionally they like to eat corn, grains, berries, seeds, insects, and peanuts. Blue jays will often force smaller birds away from bird feeders, but will typically stay away from the feeders and wait their turn when other medium sized birds, like woodpeckers, are feeding. Blue jays will sometimes eat eggs and nestlings of other birds, but this is rare.


Blue Jay Feeding Tips

  • You will need a ground bird feeder or a large bird feeder to support blue jays. Alternatively, you can put some seed on the ground in order to attract them.
  • Placing a feeder near shrubbery where birds can seek cover, or a tree where they can sit while they eat, will make the birds feel safer and more comfortable using your feeder.
  • Blue jays are very cautious birds and will not approach feeders if humans are near. Try watching from a window instead of sitting next to the feeder.
  • Blue jays are especially fond of acorns, peanuts, corn, and black oil sunflower seeds.
  • In addition to seed and grain feeders, blue jays enjoy eating from suet feeders as well.
  • Make sure there is a source of water nearby for the birds to drink and bathe in.
  • Make sure to clean bird feeders often to avoid spreading disease or having the food become unappealing due to mold and clumping.
Shop for Wild Bird Gifts.

Shop for Wild Bird gifts in our wildlife store.

A blue jay in a flowering tree.

The oldest known blue jay lived to be 17 and a half years old.

Blue jay on an icy branch.

Blue jays are especially fond of oak trees and the acorns that they drop.

Blue jay on a branch.

Blue jays will mimic the calls of predatory raptors in order to test whether or not their predators are nearby.

Blue jay eating sunflower seeds.

Blue jays need to either have large bird feeders, or ground feeders. Setting seeds on a ledge may do the trick.

Blue jay with falling snow.

Blue jays will attack humans if they get too close to their nesting areas.

Blue jay grabbing a peanut with its beak.

Blue jays are very fond of peanuts.

Blue jay flying with a peanut in its beak.

Blue jays typically fly at speeds of 20-25 miles per hour.

A blue jay with a snowy background.

The blue jay's coloration is due to the inner structure of its feathers, which refracts light. If crushed, the blue feathers will turn brown.