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Friday, November 22, 2013

Seeing the Blues

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.

Young jay

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. Single jays

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 jay pair

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.

Jay trio

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.

13 comments:

William Kendall said...

I like jays, even if they are noisy. They're smart birds.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

We had Mexican Blue Jays in Bakersfield California..and they really are smart. There was a pair that chose are large back yard as their place to live and raise their young. Lots of tree's and a very large lawn that they would bring the young to. We would buy large bags of peanuts (unsalted) in shells. The male became very tame and would land on a tray stand that I had sitting in front of that very lawn swing you see on my patio. It took some weeks to tempt him. I would throw a peanute way out on the lawn and then throw them closer and closer and finally came the day I just sat one on the tray my coffee was sitting on. Finally he would land on the tray and grab the peanut then go directly and bury it in the ground. The female never came that close. I had to laugh because she would sidle up to the peanut out on th lawn and grab it and JUMP away sideways. It was hysterical to watch.
I love birds...and spend a lot of time watching them. Our Jays are different but looking, no stripes..but very smart.
:) Mona

Montanagirl said...

We've had 3 Blue Jays around for several months now. They come to the peanut feeder. I really enjoy seeing them. It's rather a novelty around here to see them.

Daisy said...

Great pictures! I like seeing their bright blue colors, but they can be mean to other birds sometimes. Just their nature, I suppose.

Sandra said...

i have never seen that many jays in one place. i have seen 3 at one time here and at the park maybe 4 at one time

L. D. said...

Our jays are more territorial and only one pair stays in our yard at a time. They raise young ones but I have never seen them. You have some great photos here.

Lois Evensen said...

What gorgeous colors! As pretty as Blue Jays are, they sure can be nasty! Wonderful series.

thecottagebythecranelaketwo said...

We don't have Blue jays here but their relative the Eurasian jay. Unfortunately they are too shy to come to my bird feeders.

I think it isd the Jay's that are responsible for the spreading of oaks here, there isn't a big oak even close to here but still we have lots of smaller ones growing everywhere :-)

Have a great day!
Christer.

A Quiet Corner said...

I/we do not care for them at all...noisy, pushy and always pushing the others out...:)JP

Ginnie said...

Your blog entry makes me realize that I've seen almost no blue jays here at all. How strange, but we do get bluebirds.

possum said...

Great shots of a beautiful bird!
Since we have a red-tail that nests near by, I have to look carefully when I hear one call. Jays are wonderful mimics. They do not seem to like safflower seeds, cardinals do... That insures the other birds get something to eat...

Anvilcloud said...

They are pretty, and pretty feisty.

DeniseinVA said...

Marvelous shots of your Blue Jays and I am glad to know a little more about them now. Great post!

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