The Brazen Blue Jay
Yes, they’re beautiful, bountiful, brazen, and bold. Marked by flagrant and insolent audacity, this large songbird of eastern and central North America is well known for its behavior and loud calls. I have several times seen Blue Jays repeatedly swoop down to attack cats and drive them away. Cats are FAST, but the jays skillfully avoid the flashing claws and quickly frustrate the cat who usually retires with a frown on its face. You know that disgusted look that cats can get. It’s all very amusing to human onlookers.
Blue Jays are also known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.
They have a prominent perky crest with bright blue, white, and black plumage; The tail is broad and rounded. Blue Jays are smaller than crows, but larger than robins.
The Blue Jay vocalization most often considered a song is the “whisper song,” a soft, quiet conglomeration of clicks, chucks, whirrs, whines, liquid notes, and elements of other calls; a singing bout may last longer than 2 minutes.
Blue Jays make a large variety of calls that carry long distances, and are most often detected by these noisy calls. Most calls are produced while the jay is perched in a tree. Usually they fly across open areas silently, especially during migration. The most often heard is a loud jeer, Blue Jays also make clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. They frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-shouldered Hawks.
Where to See Them
They are common and prefer wooded areas, often in small noisy groups. Near shorelines they migrate in loose flocks; you can recognize them by their steady flight, rounded wings, long tail, and white underside. Resident birds may associate in flocks; they usually fly across open areas one at a time, often silently. Also watch for them at feeders.
Blue Jays prefer tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post rather than hanging feeders, and they prefer peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. Planting oak trees will make acorns available for jays of the future. Blue Jays often take drinks from birdbaths. They will often stuff food items in a throat pouch to cache elsewhere. When eating, they hold a seed or nut in feet and peck it open.
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