Many gardeners welcome blue jays to their backyard feeders. They make a noisy and colorful addition to the bird life in your garden. But, have you ever wondered about blue jay eggs?
The blue jay nesting season is a long one and can last from March to July. If you’re lucky enough to have some blue jays nesting in your yard, you may have caught a glimpse of their lovely blue eggs.
Let’s discuss everything you ever wanted to know about blue jay eggs and their nesting habits.
- 1 What Do Blue Jay Eggs Look Like?
- 2 What Happens After The Eggs Hatch?
- 3 Blue Jay Nesting Habits
- 4 How Can You Attract Nesting Blue Jays To Your Yard?
- 5 What Should You Do If You Find A Blue Jay Nest With Eggs In It?
- 6 What Should You Do If You Find A Baby Blue Jay On The Ground?
- 7 Are Blue Jay Eggs Safe From Predators?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Final Thoughts
What Do Blue Jay Eggs Look Like?
Blue jay eggs are usually 1 to 1.3 inches long with a width of 0.7 to 0.9 inches. They can be light blue, light green or yellowish-brown in color with brownish or grayish spots.
Each female lays between 3 to 7 eggs in the nest. Most female blue jays will raise only one or two broods per season.
Once laid, the eggs will normally incubate for about 17 to 18 days before they hatch. The female blue jay will sit on the nest for the incubation period while the male bird will bring her food. Blue jays are monogamous and partner with the same bird for life. The male will also stand watch near the nest in between hunting for food.
The female bird may leave the nest for short periods during incubation to have a bath and stretch her wings. When the chicks hatch, they’re naked and helpless and have their eyes closed.
DON’T MISS: Learn all about the blue jay life cycle.
What Happens After The Eggs Hatch?
Once the eggs have hatched, the female bird will remove all the eggshell fragments from the nest by tossing them over the side. This protects the young birds both from being injured by the sharp fragments and also from microbial infestations.
Although only the female blue jay will incubate the eggs, once the young are hatched, both the male and female birds take turns in feeding the brood. Most of the time though, the male will bring the food and the female will feed the young birds.
The young birds will stay in the nest for about 17 to 21 days after they’ve hatched. They’ve usually gained all their feathers around 17 days of age. Interestingly, sometimes one of the fledglings may wander a few feet from the nest before it’s ready to leave.
When this happens, the parent birds will not feed the baby until it returns to the nest.
If there’s a disturbance to the nest a few days before the young birds are ready to leave, they will leave the nest anyway. Most young birds will stay with their parents for at least another month or even two.
Blue Jay Nesting Habits
Blue jays like to build their nests in deciduous or evergreen trees about 8 to 30 feet above the ground. However, some nests can be up as high as 50 feet. The chosen tree species include many types of fir but blue jays prefer mixed forests rather than coniferous ones. Their nests are usually found in the crook of a tree where a branch meets the trunk of the tree.
A blue jays nest is constructed from twigs, roots, leaves, moss and grass. It’s sometime reinforced with mud. While the female bird does most of the nest building, the male will help to gather the nesting materials and may also assist with the building. The completed nest resembles an open cup and measures around 7-8 inches in diameter.
While nest building, blue jays are quite territorial and will drive away any intruders such as squirrels. However, the birds are usually very quiet as they build their nests. Therefore, you may not even notice if you have a pair blue jays nesting in one of your trees.
A blue jay is able to start breeding once it’s one year old. When choosing a mate, the young male bird will follow a mating ritual, making calls and bobbing up and down while female birds sit close by and watch.
If one of the females takes flight, the males will chase after her. The female will then choose one of these males as her life-long mate. After this happens, the male bird will feed the female. This is commonly referred to as courtship feeding.
How Can You Attract Nesting Blue Jays To Your Yard?
Having blue jays nesting in your yard can be a wonderful experience. As long as you watch from afar and don’t get too close to the nest.
You can encourage blue jays to nest in your yard by providing them with a nesting platform that should be about 8 inches square. Place this platform about 10 to 12 feet above the ground either in an evergreen tree or some other spot that is well protected from possible predators.
Also ensure that there are plenty of nesting materials available such as small twigs and grass clippings.
What Should You Do If You Find A Blue Jay Nest With Eggs In It?
If the nest is in a tree or somewhere near your house, just leave it alone. It may appear that the nest has been abandoned, but most likely the parents will be nearby waiting for you to move away.
At other times, if you get too close to a blue jay nest, the parent birds might dive at you. Blue jays are extremely territorial during nesting season and will fiercely protect their young.
You’ll find that the adult birds will make a lot of noise and fly quite close to you. But don’t worry. They’re unlikely to hit you. The best thing you can do is quietly move away and try and avoid that particular spot for a few days.
On very rare occasions, parent birds may abandon a nest with eggs in it because the eggs aren’t viable. If you’ve observed a nest for some time and have seen no parents nearby, it’s best to contact your local wildlife agency.
Blue jays are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act stipulates that it’s illegal to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase or barter any part of a nest or eggs unless you have a valid permit.
What Should You Do If You Find A Baby Blue Jay On The Ground?
Most baby birds will leave the nest once they have feathers. These birds are called fledglings. They’re not yet able to fly and will wander around on the ground under bushes and shrubs for a couple of days. The parents are usually keeping a close eye on the baby and will continue to feed it.
On the other hand, if you find a hatchling with no feathers, it may have fallen out of the nest accidentally. If the nest is easily accessible, you can gently pick up the little bird and put it back in the nest. It’s a myth that parent birds will abandon their babies if they’ve had human contact.
If you can’t locate the nest or it’s inaccessible, find a small container and fill with some shredded paper towel. Place the hatchling in the container and then attach the container to a tree or place it in a shrub. Hopefully, the parents will be nearby and continue to care for the baby bird.
Are Blue Jay Eggs Safe From Predators?
Unfortunately, like most bird eggs, blue jay eggs are not safe from predators. Common predators include cats, squirrels, crows, hawks, snakes, raccoons, possums and other raptors.
This is why blue jays like to nest within evergreen trees and shrubs so that their nests are well hidden from these possible predators.
Frequently Asked Questions
What month do blue jays lay eggs?
The nesting season for blue jays is from March to July.
What do you do if you find a blue jay egg?
The best thing to do is to leave it alone. This is a requirement by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
How long do blue jays stay in the nest?
The egg incubation for blue jays is sixteen to eighteen days. Once hatched, the baby birds will stay in the nest for seventeen to twenty-one days.
If you’ve ever wondered about what blue jay eggs look like and their nesting habits, now you know. You’ll also understand that blue jays mate for life and will raise one to two broods per season.
Blue jays eggs are normally blue, green or yellow in color and each female will lay around 3 to 7 eggs at a time. That can be a lot of hungry mouths to feed! Thankfully, the male bird assists in feeding the young once they’ve hatched. This can be anywhere between 16 to 18 days after they’re laid.
The female bird does all the incubating of the eggs while the male brings her food and helps to guard her and the nest. The young bird are usually ready to leave the nest around 17 to 21 days after they’ve hatched.
Have you witnessed some blue jays nesting in your yard? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.