In Wisconsin there are a few birds that when they visit your backyard, you know what they are. Blue jays are one of those birds.
What They Look Like:
Blue jays are predominantly blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary from season to season.
Crown of Feathers On Head Tells the Birds Mood:
There is a pronounced crest of feathers on a blue jays head. This crown of feathers may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood. When excited or aggressive, the crest will be fully raised. When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike. When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting, the crest is flattened on the head.
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What They Eat:
Blue Jays are mainly omnivores eating a variety of corn, grain, nuts, seeds, insects, and worms. They are easily attracted to back yards that have feeders.
The bird will visit trees, shrubs, and the ground for food sources. Like squirrels, blue jays are known to hide nuts and seed for later consumption.
It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. Birds normally pick pines in our area. Again, they are not all that picky.
They build their nests in much the same way that the American Robin does, which is why if they find a suitable and available nest already built, they will take it over.
The blue jay pairs will bond for life. Mating season begins in mid-March, peaks in mid-April and extends into July.
The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. It typically takes about 17 days for the eggs to hatch. The young take another 18-20 days to fledge (develop feathers and muscle to fly.)
Juveniles Leave Parents:
The juveniles will stay with the parents and forage together until early fall. In the fall they will part their ways. Next year, the young will be sexually mature and able to pick their own mate.
1.) The blue jay is a territorial bird that will show aggressiveness at the feeder. It chases away other birds until it has it’s fill. Only then, can additional birds feed.
2.) Jays are notorious for raiding nests of eggs. They will pick up and dump the eggs of other birds nests out onto the ground.
3.) Blue Jays are noisy. They will scream if they see a predator within its territory. If a hawk, owl or additional bird of prey is in the area, it will sound its alarm. All additional small birds in the area will hide when this happens. It is rather funny that the feeder bully is protecting those he bullies.
In cold weather climates the blue jay usually migrates in groups of 5-200 birds. Although, a few might stick around and over winter. It depends on weather conditions and how abundant the winter food sources are.
Yes, the blue jay is an aggressive bird at the feeders. Many have a love – hate relationship with this bird. I happen to be on the love side. I enjoy watching them grab peanuts. I know that many of their vocal calls to action and screams are to alert all the other birds that danger is near. Plus, I just love to see the bold blue flickering through my back yard on occasion.
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