About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blue Jay Fun Facts

Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Crows and Jays (Corvidae)
  • Blue jays are bright blue birds with blue head crests, black wing markings and black necklaces.
  • They are a large songbird about 10-12 inches but weigh only about 3 ounces
  • Bright and bold, blue jays often travel in noisy family groups in late summer and fall. Their discovery of good feeding sight is announced to the whole community of birds. They also are very good at giving early warnings of hawk, cats, or other predators in the area.
  • Their name “Jay” has its origins from the Latin “gaius” meaning “gay or merry.” The species name cristata originates from the Latin word crista, meaning “crested.”
  • The longevity record for banded Blue Jays in the wild is over 17 years, the longest of any of the jays.
  • A single blue jay can cache or hide as many as 5,000 acorns up to 2.5 miles from their original source and retrieve them when needed. They can do this by carrying several nuts at one time in their esophagus.
  • Blue Jays will shuffle through the seeds until what they are looking for is found. They'll pick a seed up in their bill to test the weight. If it's not heavy enough they'll pick up another to compare the weight of the seeds. It's not worth their while to eat or cache seeds that are dried out or bad.
  • Blue Jays eat fruit, nuts, berries, seeds, and suet. However if you offered a buffet, their first choice would be peanuts in the shell.
  • Blue Jays have no blue pigments in their feathers. The blue color is due to refraction, not pigmentation. So a Blue Jay feather will not loose its color no matter how long it is bleached by the sun, because the color is not a pigment and therefore can't fade.
  • Studies show that the first year Blue Jays go further south to winter in a more plentiful habitat. While their crafty parents, perhaps knowing several survival tactics, stay the whole year.
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