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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

There’s more to a jay than any other creature


This jay at Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store 
 looks like he got a bad haircut 
“You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure, ’cause he’s got feathers on him and he don’t belong to no church perhaps, but otherwise he’s just as much a human as you and me.” ~ Mark Twain.

It seems like every fall my mom would give me a short haircut before the school year started and I would spend the rest of the year growing it out again.

Mother Nature also gives some Blue Jays a rather short hairdo in the fall. Fortunately it only takes a few weeks for them to grow their feathers back after their fall molt.

Many people cast the Blue Jay in the roll of bully bird at the feeding station. But jays can be beneficial to other bird species, by chasing away predatory birds, such as hawks and owls, or giving a jayer-jayer call if it sees other predators within its territory.

Pin-feathers popping through above the eye
I woke up this morning to a jay “laughing” like a woodpecker and then screeching like a Red-tailed Hawk. Once I filled the feeders he let every bird on the block know there was food available with a pretty yodel.

Much about their migratory behavior of Blue Jays remains a mystery. We do see jays year-round in mid-Michigan, but are they the same birds? Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults. To date, no one has worked out why some jays migrate and some stay year-round. 

Jay all put together again & gathering nuts
According to a 1992 article in by Bill Hilton Jr called "Boisterous blue jays": Young birds may migrate south to find easier food sources while more experienced older birds overwinter close to their nesting territory. And the Cornell bird guide found that individual jays may migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year and think it is related more to weather conditions. 

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