By Larry Czajkoski

 

 

Blue Jays are smart, adaptable, and noisy birds. No other eastern bird is blue and crested, making the blue jay almost unmistakable. Males and females are similar showing a crest with black barring and white patches on blue wings and tail, and a black necklace on white under parts.

Besides the standard jay jay jay or jeer jeer call often used as a scold, blue jays also emit a variety of squeaks, rattles, croaks, and a musical weedle-eedle, in addition to mimicking other birds’ calls. In fact, they will often mimic the call of a red-tailed or red-shouldered hawk as they approach a bird feeder; an apparent attempt to scare other birds away from the food. Blue jays are a common feeder visitor attracted to suet, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. A source of water is highly attractive to them, too.

 

As is evident by the large numbers of blue jays in our area, like this one I photographed near Apple Valley, blue jays are common in wooded habitats, especially those with oaks. Indeed the blue jay has a special relationship with oaks, burying as many as a few thousand acorns in fall caches for future consumption. Blue jays will carry as many as five acorns at a time in their throat and bill to the cache site, drop them in a pile, and bury them one at a time. Many of these acorns are never retrieved, so jays are credited with helping with forest generation. If you hear a sound in the woods that is loud and bold, chances are good that it’s coming from a blue jay….You will almost always hear one, and then see it.