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The Blue Jay - A Blue Bird that is Not Really Blue

Article and photos by Charly Mann

Blue Jays are an intelligent and beautiful bird that usually live near the edge of forests containing oak trees. This is because they are especially fond of acorns.

Blue Jay up-close
Blue Jay with his crown raised because I was getting a little too close

Blue jays have a blue crest which is an elongated crown of feathers on their head which is raised or lowered depending on the situation. When a Blue Jay feels safe the crest is flat on its head. When a Blue Jay is defensive or frightened the crest is raised giving the bird a very different appearance.

I have had a close relationship with Blue Jays since I was very young. When I was 10 I raised a baby Blue Jay that was abandoned, and in later years a multi-generation family of Blue Jays would come into my house for more than two decades and get up on  my office desk where I would feed them sunflower seeds out of my hand.

Blue Jay bird profile
Blue Jay on the lookout in northeast Oklahoma 

Blue Jays are part of the Crow family. Like their relative, the American Crow, they usually stay in small groups which protect one another when foraging for food. I recently saw a Blue Jay sitting on a limb looking out for nearby cats while two other Blue jays were gathering nuts on the ground.

Blue Jays have a reputation for being noisy, but in my years of observing them they are usually very quiet unless they want to scare off a predator. Then they make an eerie vibrating noise that can scare off most cats and even some dogs. For added defense they can also sound just like a hawk.

Blue Jay up close
This is my backyard Blue Jay. Notice his crest is flat.

Blue jays are about 11 inches in length and weigh around three ounces. They are a combination of blue, black and white on top, and white underneath. Their face is mainly white. Male and female Blue Jays look alike.

Blue jays actually are not blue at all. What appears blue is a unique brown pigment in their feathers which appears blue to us because of the way it reacts to light.

Besides acorns, Blue jays will eat insects, frogs, and mice, and are known to show up at birdfeeders to enjoy suet and sunflower seeds.

Some Blue Jays have lived as long as seventeen years.



Pilar      2:19 AM Sat 2/4/2017

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Jan Leah      12:57 PM Sat 10/22/2016

The Blue Jays that are coming to my feeder this year are gray, with the same markings as the regular Blue Jay. Why is that. It definitely is a Blue Jay,

kim      10:32 AM Wed 12/30/2015

I have blue jays this year that have no blue ... same colouring pattern, tufted crest, but no blue?

becci      9:54 PM Wed 7/30/2014

my bluejays keep beating up on my little cardinals...they are bullies but i still love them.


Micaela      1:49 PM Mon 3/24/2014

I am relay interested in blue jays. I'm only nine, but when my 4th grade teacher said, "Make a report on blue jays. And I expect it don by Friday.",
I stared researching, and found you, and I'm glad i did! Thank you!

Lorena      11:40 AM Sun 11/17/2013

Blue Jays are interesting

PizzaMan      4:39 PM Mon 8/26/2013

Blue Jays are aWeSoMe!! One time I was sitting at a picnic table eating a Pizza Cake, and a Blue Jay flew down and landed on the table - he seemed to be asking if he too could enjoy the delicious Pizza Cake I was eating. I offered him a slice, and he gobbled it up. I think that Blue Jays ought to be the official bird mascot of International Pizza Cake Day!!!

EStanford      3:24 PM Tue 6/4/2013

Blue Jays are beautiful birds!


Praveen      4:25 AM Tue 10/2/2012

That kind of thinking shows you're an epxret

marcia      8:27 AM Fri 6/8/2012

i live in michigan, on a creek & a bird has shown up this year,it looks exactly like a blue jay, but is about 1/2 the size. has the same color & tufted head.i don't think it is a baby jay as it doesn't appear to be a baby & there are several of them....any clue? anyone?

Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.

Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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