19 Fascinating Facts About Blue Jays

facts about blue jays

There are few things in life more beautiful than the sight of a Blue Jay in person. They’re like little jewels that take your breath away whenever you see them.

Numerous amazing fun facts about Blue Jays make them one of the most exciting birds worldwide. Check out the following actualities, and you’ll be itching to see them in person.

Blue Jays aren’t Blue

People often assume Blue Jays are blue because of their name, but they’re brownish, which is melanin.

However, when seen up close or in bright sunlight, it’s easier to see more of their bluish color since they use “a trick” called light scattering. 

blue jays are not blue

When visible light strikes their feathers, all colors pass through except blue. The blue color will be reflected, making BLUE visible to your eyes.

The Live Long than Most Small Birds

Blue Jays can live longer than most small birds. They live up to 5 years in captivity and seven years in their natural environment.

Their life cycle starts with their parents for the first few months until the fall season, after which they fledge (embark on their own). 

They reach maturity at one year old and find a mate where. The pair stays together for the rest of their life. 

They Rub Ants On Their Feathers

Ants have formic acid in their bodies that repels parasites. Blue Jays believe that ants taste better without acid.

The acid also safeguards Jays when they get an infestation of bacteria and parasites like lice or mites. 

Blue Jays rub themselves with ants to get some formic acids when preening that help them get rid of parasites!

If you expose ants to Blue Jays, the ants without formic acid will be consumed immediately, but the acidic ones will be introduced to the rubbing ceremony!

Blue Jays are Corvids

The Blue Jay’s scientific name is Cyanocitta cristata, and it belongs to the Corvidae family member, including ravens, crows, and magpies. 

Blue Jays are Corvids

Although more than 130 species of crows and ravens exist, only one blue jay species exists, but it’s divided into subspecies.

Blue Jay comes from French Canadian hunters who called them Geai bleu. Translated into English, it became Blue Jay. 

They Mimic Hawks

Blue Jays can look at a hawk and try to mimic its behavior, scaring off potential predators with their size and pattern. It works well for these masters of disguise!

For example, if a red-tailed hawk flies over their territory and makes a dive, it’ll start to mimic its behavior. They copy what they hear and see, just like humans do with technology.

No one understands why they do this, but ornithologists say they do this to fool other birds into thinking there’s a hawk nearby, so they can fly away and leave their food.

They also mimic to warn other Blue Jays in the area that there’s a hawk nearby. Below are some of the common hawks that Jays mimic:

  • Osprey
  • Bald Eagle
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Kestrel
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk

Other Birds Fear them

Many animals that could harm a blue jay fear them instead. Owls and hawks will shy away from attacking a blue jay because of its solid claws and loud squawks.

Hawks have even been known to drop their prey when they see a blue jay nearby, as they know it won’t be easy to make off with their meal. 

While many birds are cautious around humans, blue jays are not afraid of us. They’ll eat right out of your hand and often show no fear when approaching them. 

There are over 20 Subspecies of Blue Jays

Numerous Blue Jay subspecies used to be considered separate species altogether. 

However, today they’re all Blue Jays, and each subspecies is categorized depending on its natural habitat and where it’s found worldwide.

sub species of blue jays

Below are some of the typical subspecies of Blue Jays spread across the world:

  • Cyanocitta cristata bromia
  • Cyanocitta stelleri carlottae
  • Cyanocitta stelleri carbonacea
  • Cyanocitta stelleri diademata
  • Cyanocitta stelleri macrolopha
  • Cyanocitta stelleri annectens
  • Cyanocitta cristata semplei
  • Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra
  • Cyanocitta stelleri stelleri
  • Cyanocitta stelleri coronata
  • Cyanocitta stelleri restricta
  • Cyanocitta stelleri phillipsi
  • Cyanocitta stelleri suavis
  • Cyanocitta stelleri frontalis
  • Cyanocitta cristata cristata

Blue Jays are often confused with their cousins, Steller’s Jays. While both species have bluish plumage, Steller’s Jays are bigger than Blue Jays and have a much longer tail.

They’re Very Territorial and Aggressive

Blue Jays seem gentle, but they’re aggressive defenders of their territory. They’ll chase off crows and hawks that come too close to their nests.

They’re also very protective of food sources, and their young will attack anything that threatens to compete with them around their feeding sources or come close to their young. 

Even cats have been known to try and trespass on Blue Jay’s territory and have suffered severe injuries.

They’re also aggressive toward humans who venture too close to their nests, so if you see one in your backyard, stay away!

They are Very Intelligent

On average, blue jays are far more intelligent than other corvids. This means they have a sizeable brain-to-body ratio and can recognize friends and enemies.

Blue Jays are a unique bird species that recognize themselves in a mirror. This means they possess self-awareness.

They can also solve complex problems, such as how to retrieve food from a puzzle box, within minutes of first spotting it.

They Have Great Vision

The eyesight of a Blue Jay is eight times better than that of humans, meaning they can spot food from great distances. 

They can even see ultraviolet light (which humans cannot), which helps them find grubs hidden under tree bark.

They can see in almost every direction, meaning they have a wide field of view which helps them spot food or predators before they get too close!

Blue Jays are Monogamous

Male and female Blue Jays form monogamous pairs that remain together until one dies or gets captured by hunters. 

So, does Blue Jay mate for life? Of course, they’ll often bond with their mate for life. If you see two Blue Jays in your backyard, you may be looking at an old married couple! 

This means if a male or female of a mated pair dies, likely, their partner will never find another mate. 

They also build and maintain nests and feed the chicks together during the spring and summer. 

The nests are made from leaves, sticks, grasses, and other natural elements and can be found in hollow trees or on man-made structures such as utility poles.

Male and Female Blue Jays Look the Same

The male and female Blue Jay look precisely alike, and it’s tricky to distinguish them at first glance, but males are slightly bigger than females.

This identical characteristic is known as sexual monomorphism, as opposed to sexual dimorphism, when males and females of a species have different characteristics.

The Bird’s Migration Patterns are Weird

There doesn’t seem to be a clear pattern to the Migrations of Blue Jays. Some do migrate, and others do not.

blue jays migration

Most people living in eastern and central US states will see blue jays in their yards during the winter and all year round.

Individual birds may migrate south one year but not the next. They may then migrate the following year again.

They can travel over 400 miles per day! Along their migration routes, they may seek shelter in certain areas depending on how close it is to their destination.

They’re Omnivores 

Despite their reputation for being picky eaters, Blue Jays are notorious omnivores. 

Wild and captive Blue Jays have been observed eating grubs, crickets, mealworms, caterpillars, berries, corn, suet, acorn, and even tree sap when times are lean.

They have the instinct to hunt other birds and small animals to supplement their diet with protein. 

If they can’t find any suet in your backyard, a meal of sunflower seeds, insects, or peanuts will do fine.

Blue Jays are Noisier and Louder in Fall than in Summer and Spring

Blue Jays are much louder and noisier in fall than in summer or spring when nesting and tend to be secretive for their safety.

Since there are fewer leaves on trees in fall, it’s easier for these birds to communicate with each other using their high-frequency calls.

During the mating season—in spring—males use their calls to let females know they want them as mates. This is called courtship call, which males use to attract females.

They Fly Slow

Despite having relatively short wings for a bird of prey, Blue Jays are pretty slow fliers. 

Their average flight speed is about 20 to 25 miles per hour, but they can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour when they’re in danger or excited. 

However, they’re good at other things, like flying upwards and flapping their wings up to 50 times per minute!

Blue Jays Can See at Night

One of the fascinating facts about Blue Jays is that they can see at night, a rare trait among most birds. 

The birds manage to do so because their eyes contain a reflective layer called a tapetum lucidum

This layer reflects light through their retinas, allowing them to absorb more rays and enhancing their vision at night.

You can Easily Attract them to Your Backyard

While Blue jays are exceptionally intelligent, they’re also easy to attract to your backyard or farm.

attract blue jays to your backyard

Provide major elements that attract them, including a suitable shelter for nesting and a bird feeder in a location where you can see it from your kitchen window or deck. 

Blue jays will soon discover an endless supply of food and will be happy to make your yard their new home.

Interesting Fun Facts About Blue Jays for Kids

blue jays fun facts for kids

They bury some of their collected nuts and seeds to eat them later. They keep this food in a hidden area and protect it with their lives!

The male and female Blue Jays feed and protect their little ones until they get independent. The young ones become self-reliant after 17 days to 21 days.

They make beautiful sounds and sometimes mimic their predators to scare them off. The young ones know these sounds and will hide immediately.

Blue Jays are crafty birds that stay hidden until someone sets down food, and once they walk away, they swoop in and take the food.

Blue Jays will also hide and watch a person planting seed crops and later dig the seeds up and eat them.

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