The blue jay life cycle starts with their parents during the first few months until the fall season, after which they embark out on their own. Blue jays reach maturity at 1 year and then find a mate for life. These birds live for approximately 7 years in the wild.
Ever seen fledgling blue jays hopping about or wondered how old a blue jay is? Many things happen during the blue jay lifespan and I would love to tell you about it.
- 1 What Is the Life Cycle of a Blue Jay?
- 1.1 Birth – When Do Blue Jays Lay Eggs?
- 1.2 Nestlings & Fledglings – How Long Do Blue Jays Stay with Their Parents?
- 1.3 Juveniles – What Do Blue Jays Reach Adulthood?
- 1.4 Breeding – Do Blue Jays Mate for Life?
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions:
- 3 Summary
What Is the Life Cycle of a Blue Jay?
The life cycle of a blue jay is not very different from other birds. They start as nestlings, leave the nest as fledglings and start to explore the world on their own at around 3-4 months old.
The blue jay’s first year is critical – this is when they are at their most vulnerable. However, once they make it past their first birthday they have good odds of survival.
Blue jays reach sexual maturity at approximately 1 years old which means that they are ready to find a mate to nest with. And so, a new life cycle begins.
That’s their life in a nutshell but there are many more interesting facts about blue jays and how they live. Let’s go through their different life stages and you’ll understand.
Birth – When Do Blue Jays Lay Eggs?
Blue jays lay eggs in the spring and summer, usually between the months of March and July. Mid-April until the end of May is peak season for breeding.
The average nest size is 3-7 eggs but females can have up to two broods per year. With an incubation period of only 16-18 days there is plenty of time.
During incubation, the female is the one that keeps the eggs warm. Her mate, often her mate for life, keeps returning to feed her and help protect the nest.
Some fenales are not fed inside the nest. They might move to a nearby tree for a feeding and then quickly return to their eggs.
What Color Eggs Do Blue Jays Lay?
Blue jays are one of the birds that lays blue eggs. It is a light blue that may have some green hues.
However, that is not the only blue jay egg color. They can also be yellow with brown or greyish spots.
Nestlings & Fledglings – How Long Do Blue Jays Stay with Their Parents?
The nestling stage of blue jays lasts for about 17-21 days. For the first 8-12 days, the mother stays with her newborn to keep them warm – they are born without feathers or fuzz.
After more or less 3 weeks, the female blue jay starts to leave the nest. For the remainder of the nestling period both parents go out to forage food for their young.
About 3 weeks after hatching, the chicks may start to venture out of the nest. Blue jay babies never go too far alone, though.
The bravest blue jays, the ones that leave first, will hop around the nest but not much further than 15 feet. They wait for their brothers and sisters to explore areas further away.
As a group, they are much more adventurous and can go as far as 75 feet by day two. This is in preparation of the fall season when they leave their parents.
How to Tell How Old a Baby Blue Jay Is
It is difficult to determine how old a baby blue jay is because they have very similar color patterns to their parents. If their feathers still look fluffy, you can assume that they are still fledglings.
If they don’t have any feathers or are still patchy than they might still be nestlings. If you notice one outside of their nest, call your local bird center and ask them the best thing to do.
Juveniles – What Do Blue Jays Reach Adulthood?
Juvenile blue jays look pretty much the same as their parents. They have the same white face, blue back feathers and black necklace.
Come the fall season, blue jays tend to disperse more. This is because there is greater competition for food sources during the colder months.
If the juvenile blue jay makes it through their first winter, they have a good chance of living to an average age of 7 years. Blue jays reach adulthood after about 1 year.
When Do Blue Jays Reach Sexual Maturity?
Like most birds, blue jays are sexually mature at about 1 years old. This means that they can start breeding the very next spring after they are born.
Breeding – Do Blue Jays Mate for Life?
Of all the blue jay facts, this is the one people ask most often. Do blue jays mate for life? And the answer is yes.
So, why is it that you might see several male blue jays surrounding a single female blue jay? This is part of their courting ritual.
Before a female blue jay finds her life partner, she is courted by a group of males. They congregate around her and you can observe aerial stylings as they chase after her.
During courtship, several suitors may try to mate with her but only one will succeed. That one will become her mate and they will build a nest together.
How Can You Tell a Male from a Female Blue Jay?
It is rare among birds but blue jays are one of the few species where the females and males are almost identical. Both sexes have the same colors and patterns in their wings.
There is only one slight difference and that is their size. Males are slightly bigger than females but you would have to see several together to appreciate the scale.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Long Do Blue Jays Live?
Out in the wild, the average blue jay lifespan is 7 years. However, in captivity they can live much longer with the oldest blue jay recorded reaching 26 years of age.
What Time of Year Do Blue Jays Lay Eggs?
Blue jays lay eggs between late March and the end of July with peak season running from late April to the end of May. These birds can have 1-2 broods per breeding season.
How Long Do Blue Jay Fledglings Stay on the Ground?
Fledgling blue jays can stay on the ground for up to 5 days while they’re learning to fly. During this time, the parents are still around to offer them protection.
- Incubation: 16-18 days
- Nestling: 17-21 days
- Fledgling: 5 days
- Independence: 2-3 months
- Maturity: 1 year
The average lifespan of a blue jay is 7 years but they already reach maturity after the first year. This is when they start looking for a mate for life.
Female and male blue jays share responsibility in building a nest and feeding the young but it is the female that does the incubation. The young stay with their parents for the first 2-3 months as they grow their feathers and learn to fly.
Have you seen baby blue jays this spring? Or have you spotted a flock of blue jays looking for their forever mate?