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 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 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.
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.