This year there’s been an unusually large number of blue jays at the backyard feeders. They are often hoggish at the feeders, scaring other bird species away. To their credit, however, they are more colorful to see than the even more hoggish, but very unattractive, starlings and grackles.
But to their credit, the blue jay can be beneficial to other birds, as it has been known to chase predatory birds, like hawks and owls, calling loudly if it sees a predator within its territory. Jays have also been known to sound an alarm call when hawks or other dangers are near; smaller birds recognize this call and hide away. A blue jay may impersonate a raptor’s call, especially those of the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, possibly to test if one is in the area or to scare off other birds that may compete for food sources.
A few months ago, this young bird was a frequent feeder visitor. Young jays can remain with their parents for one to two months. The male blue jay feeds the female while she sits on the eggs and when they hatch, both parents feed the young. Blue jays fledge in about 3 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached after one year of age.
Blue jays have quiet, almost subliminal calls which they use among themselves in proximity. While in other parts, blue jays migrate for the winter, they are usually seen year-round here in Virginia.
Blue jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, which doesn’t vary in color through the year.
Blue jays are mostly vegetarians and most of their diet is composed of acorns, nuts, and seeds, and also caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles. They also control insect populations by eating large numbers of tent caterpillars when they leave the tents. And, blue jays are credited with aiding the spread of forests as they often store acorns in the ground and fail to retrieve them.
The blue jay is the team symbol of the major league baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s also the official bird of the province of Prince Edward Island in Canada.