Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today It's Mr. Blue Jay’s Turn

Mr. Inski the chipmunk had his photo session on Monday. And Mr. Robin had his yesterday. And right when I was preparing for a much needed break (photographing these skittish critters is exhausting, you know, not to mention time-consuming), well, along comes Mr. Blue Jay demanding his time in front of the camera. I gave in because he can be incredibly convincing with that shrieking voice, and because he won’t be around all summer. A soon as Mr. and Mrs. Robin start building a nest, they’re going to get very aggressive toward Mr. Blue Jay and angrily chase him away from my yard, which they believe is their yard. And Mr. Blue Jay and family won’t be allowed back here until at least the end of August.

Therefore, I may as well take as many photos of him and the little missus while I still can. So, here he is in all his glory (with some trivia from an old post)...



Blue Jays are part of the Corvidae family of birds, which includes relatives like ravens, magpies, rooks, crows, jackdaws, treepies, nutcrackers, choughs and several others. A common name for this group of birds is “The crow family”


Very clever, Blue Jays in captivity have been known to use tools for problem-solving, such as strips of newspaper to rake in food pellets outside of their cages.


Blue Jays are monogamous. A couple will stay together until one of the pair dies. Extremely protective of their family members, particularly their young, they will not hesitate to attack large predators – including humans – when intimidated by them. Several Blue Jays will also band together, when a stronger force is necessary, to chase away intruders.



Excellent imitators, Blue Jays frequently copy the sounds of other birds, including the cries of hawks, which is done to a) warn other Jays that predators are around and b) to deceive other species into believing that hawks are close by – so food sources will be abandoned and made available exclusively to the Jays. (Smart, huh?) So, if you ever see a Blue Jay fly down to a feeder immediately after the smaller birds abandon it in fear, well, you’ll know what that’s all about. In addition to other birds, Blue Jays can also imitate human speech and meowing cats. Most sources of information state that this is mostly done by captive Blue Jays. Still, that’s pretty impressive.


A Blue Jay raises or lowers the crest of feathers on its head according to its mood. A fully erected crest, forming a prominent peak, indicates aggression or excitement. A crest that is laid flat on top of the head is a sign of calmness and relaxation. And a crest that spreads outwards, resembling a bottle brush, reveals that the bird is frightened.


The lifespan of these birds is about 7 years. The oldest Blue Jay in the wild (studied by researchers) lived to be 17 ½. And the longest-lived, a female in captivity, lived to be over 26 years old. Wow!


Blue Jays are not welcome by everyone because they have a reputation of being bullies at the bird feeders. Not everybody agrees though. According to some sources of information, these birds may not be as aggressive as they are made out to be, which has certainly been my experience. I personally don’t have a problem with them. In fact, the other critters in my backyard, including squirrels, mourning doves, woodpeckers and even the shy cardinals, have often dominated the Blue Jays, preventing them from obtaining food. So, I welcome these beautiful birds, particularly this time of year, with one of their favourite treats – peanuts.


You’re okay in my book, Mr. Blue Jay!

12 comments:

  1. Great photos! And I did not know that blue jays are part of the crow family. Fascinating!

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    1. They sure are. That's why they're quite clever. But crows are at the top of the 'smart' chain.

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  2. I love Blue Jays - they're just so darn cheery looking! Wonderful shots. No wonder you have so many visitors - you put out a literal smorgasboard for them :)

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    1. They are a lot of fun. They look like they're smiling. And yup, I spoil the birds rotten. Or rather, I bribe them into hanging around, so I can take photos and enjoy some lively action in the back.

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  3. What great shots, Martha! Blue jays are such beautiful birds. You are absolutely right about them imitating hawks---ours do it all the time! And the other birds never seem to figure it out, haha...they fly away in alarm, just like the jays want them to. I must say--it IS a pretty convincing hawk cry they make.

    I loved your robin photos, too. I'm amazed that you're able to get so close to them. You must be a bird whisperer. :-)

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    1. It's adorable how clever they are. I enjoy watching them zip in and out of my backyard. And they show up regularly for the peanuts; they get so close to our window to get our attention for peanuts (to see if we're inside) that I wouldn't be surprised if one of them knocks on it one day with his beak :)

      Ha ha...I laughed with the 'dog whisperer' comment. I'd like to think it's true...but let's just say that most of the credit goes to the camera ;

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  4. I like watching the blue jays, but you are right on the noise factor. They can be extremely loud sometimes.

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    1. They have a shrieking voice, but they also have a nice singing voice, too, which a lot of people don't realize. It's a shame they don't use it more often.

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  5. Just love these photos! And i love blue jays even more than ever now that I know more about them. That was quite interesting about the bird's crest. I had no idea. My parent's once had a duck we called Elvis because his crest looked like 'the King's' hair. Now I know why he was raising his crest!

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    1. That is so cute and funny...a duck called 'Elvis'! He must have been quite interesting to look at. Too bad he couldn't perform as well :)

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  6. Martha, you have a virtual zoo there! I really think THEY were waiting for you!! Not the other way round. Wonderful photos!

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    1. Ha ha...you may be right, Jim! It's my seasonal restaurant they are waiting for.

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