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Facts about the Blue Jay (Bird) For Kids

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year.

  • Four subspecies of the Blue Jay are recognized.
  • It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air.
  • The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots.
  • Young are altricial, and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching.
  • There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood.
  • Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white.
  • The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head.
  • The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue and white.
  • The bill, legs, and eyes are all black.
  • As with most other blue-hued birds, the Blue Jay’s coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed.
  • Likely, it is related to weather conditions and how plentiful are the winter food sources, which can lead even northern birds to not necessarily move south.
  • The Blue Jay occupies a variety of habitats within its large range, from the pine woods of Florida to the spruce-fir forests of northern Ontario.
  • Four subspecies are generally accepted, though the variation within this species is rather subtle and essentially clinal.
  • Virtually all the raptorial birds sympatric in distribution with the Blue Jay may predate it, especially swift bird-hunting specialists such as the Accipiter hawks.
  • Diverse predators may predate jay eggs and young up to their fledging stage, including tree squirrels, snakes, cats, crows, raccoons, opossums, other jays and possibly many of the same birds of prey who attack adults.
  • It has also been known to sound an alarm call when hawks or other dangers are near, and smaller birds often recognize this call and hide themselves away accordingly.
  • It may also be aggressive towards humans who come close to its nest, and if an owl roosts near the nest during the daytime the Blue Jay mobs it until it takes a new roost.
  • However, this may not be as common as is typically thought, as only 1% of food matter in one study was compromised by birds.
  • While not confirmed to have engaged in tool use in the wild, blue jays in captivity have been observed using strips of newspaper as tools to obtain food, while captive fledglings have been observed attempting to open the door to their cages Blue Jays have strong black bills which they use for cracking nuts and acorns, usually while holding them with their feet, and for eating corn, grains and seeds.
  • Beyond predation and the occasional collision with man-made objects, a common cause of mortality in recent decades has been the West Nile Virus, which corvids as a whole seem especially susceptible to.