March Bird of the Month: Blue Jay

March 10, 2014

bluejayonfall leavesBlue jays are hard to miss thanks to their distinctive blue coloration and plumage with black markings around the head and on the face. What may not be as apparent is that the blue jay has a crest atop its head. This crest is actually rather interesting, as its position indicates the blue jays’ mood at the time. The crest’s default position is flat on top of the head while the bird is feeding with other blue jays or resting. When the crest spreads out to either side, that means the jay is frightened, while a crest that’s sticking straight up indicates an aggressive and/or excited jay.

Measuring anywhere between 9 and 12 inches in length, blue jays can be found all up and down the eastern United States as far west as Texas, although they are sporadically spotted as far north and west as Montana. While they’ve been found to live for upwards of 26 years in captivity, a normal adult’s lifespan in the wild is about 7 years.

In late winter,  anywhere from three to ten jays will begin the mating process by forming a group around one female that assumes the leadership role. The males that make up the rest of the group follow her wherever she goes, making noise as they fly and showing off physically when they land. The group diminishes in size until it’s just the female and the male with whom she’s indicated she’ll mate. Those two will almost always then become a monogamous pair that’s mated for life.

Blue jays eat a wide variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits and small invertebrates. So there are plenty of options, such as the Superior Blend Seed Cake, that you can serve to attract blue jays to your yard. Feeders at which they eat include the Duplex Screen Feeder, while the bird houses that they’ll use are usually open-ended and semi-sheltered platforms rather than the typical fully enclosed spaces.

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