Wildlife and Invasive Species Education (WISE) Species Profile: The Blue Jay
Common Name: The Blue Jay
Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata
Identification: The Blue Jay is a striking bird that is adorned with different shades of blue and white feathers. They have a blue crest and have a black collar or ring around their neck. The wings and tail have a “running bond” brick pattern of blue and black feathers. In flight, you will notice the white breast, arched wings, and distinct white tail corners. Some will have a more prominent black bar that runs from its eye to the collar. The Blue Jay are boisterous birds, producing a variety of distinct sounds. Aside from producing their own unique calls, they also mimic other birds such as crows, and red-shouldered hawks. To listen to the sound of Blue Jay’s, visit: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Jay/sounds
Description: Blue jays are very intelligent birds that inhabit most of Florida. Blue jay’s are found in a variety of habitats such hardwood swamps, palm hammocks, and residential areas around the state. They can be seen hopping or flying from trees such as palms, pines, but more often oaks. You may see more than one. Blue Jays are social and keep tight family bonds. Blue jays do not exhibit sexual dimorphism (distinct difference in size or appearance between males and females) like other songbirds such as cardinals or painted buntings. Both the males and females participate in nest building. Nests are built about 10 to 40ft up in the tree canopy. Nests are made up of a variety of materials such as twigs, pine needles, and Spanish moss. In Florida, nesting is from March to September and some may have up to three broods per year. Incubation is about 17 to 18 days, with the female doing most of the incubation. Young fledge about 17 to 21 days and will start wandering from the nest.
Diet: Blue jays are known to feed on fruit, seeds, and insects. One of their favorite foods are acorns from oak trees. Blue jays will take the acorn and pound on a limb or ground to break it open. These opportunistic omnivores will also feed on small reptiles and amphibians. On occasion, blue jays will also feed on other birds eggs and nestlings.
Interesting Facts: The blue jay is the official mascot of the Toronto’s Blue Jays.
The crest of the blue jay will let you know its attitude. If it is up, the blue jay may be agitated or alerted by a predator. If it is down, it is calm.
References: Blue Jay https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_Jay/overview
Blue Jay http://Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 2003, January 6. Florida’s breeding bird atlas: A collaborative study of Florida’s birdlife. http://www.myfwc.com/bba/ (Date accessed 12/14/20).
Cover Photo Credit: Jim E. Davis