Blue Jay

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Blue Jay
Cyanocitta-cristata-004.jpg
Conservation status
Scienteefic classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Cyanocitta
Species: C. cristata
Binomial name
Cyanocitta cristata
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Global range
     Breedin range     Year-roond range     Winterin rangeSee an aa text for recent range expansion.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the faimily Corvidae, native tae North Americae. It is resident through maist o eastren an central Unitit States an soothren Canadae, altho wastren populations mey be migratory. It breeds in baith deciduous an coniferous forests, an is common near an in residential auries. It is predominately blue wi a white chest an unnerparts, an a blue crest. It haes a black, U-shaped collar aroond its neck an a black border behind the crest. Sexes are seemilar in size an plumage, an plumage daes nae vary throughoot the year. Fower subspecies o the Blue Jay are recognized.

The Blue Jay mainly feeds on nits an seeds such as acorns, saft fruits, arthropods, an occasionally smaa vertebrates. It typically gleans fuid frae trees, shrubs, an the grund, tho it sometimes hawks insects frae the air. It bigs an open cup nest in the branches o a tree, which baith sexes pairteecipate in constructin. The clutch can contain twa tae seiven eggs, which are blueish or licht broun wi broun spots. Young are altricial, an are broodit bi the female for 8–12 days efter hatchin. Thay mey remain wi thair parents for ane tae twa months.

The bird's name derives frae its noisy, garrulous naitur.[2] It is sometimes cried a "jaybird".[3]

Description[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Blue Jay measurs 22–30 cm (9–12 in) frae bill tae tail an weighs 70–100 g (2.5–3.5 oz), wi a wingspan o 34–43 cm (13–17 in).[4][5] Jays frae Connecticut averaged 92.4 g (3.26 oz) in mass, while jays frae soothren Floridae averaged 73.7 g (2.60 oz).[6][7] Thare is a pronoonced crest on the heid, a croun o feathers, which mey be raised or lawered accordin tae the bird's muid. When excitit or aggressive, the crest mey be fully raised. When frichtened, the crest bristles ootwards, brushlik. When the bird is feedin amang ither jays or restin, the crest is flattened tae the heid.[8]

Its plumage is lavender-blue tae mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, an tail, an its face is white. The unnerside is off-white an the neck is collared wi black which extends tae the sides o the heid. The wing primaries an tail are strangly barred wi black, sky-blue an white. The bill, legs, an ees are all black. Males an females are nearly identical, but the male is a little lairger.[5][9]

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;[10] if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed.[4] This is referred to as structural coloration.

Distribution an habitat[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Blue Jay occurs frae soothren Canadae through the eastren an central USA sooth tae Florida an northeastren Texas. The wastren edge o the range stops whaur the arid pine forest an scrub habitat o the closely relatit Steller's jay (C. stelleri) begins. Recently, the range o the Blue Jay haes extendit northwastwards so that it is nou a rare but regularly seen winter veesitor alang the northren US an soothren Canadian Pacific Coast.[4] As the twa species' ranges nou owerlap, C. cristata mey sometimes hybridize wi Steller's jay.[11]

The northrenmaist subspecies C. c. bromia is migratory, subject tae necessity. It mey withdraw several hundrit kilometers sooth in the northrenmaist pairts o its range. Thoosands o Blue Jays hae been observed tae migrate in flocks alang the Great Lochs an Atlantic coasts. It migrates during the daytime, in loose flocks o 5 tae 250 birds. Much aboot thair migratory behavior remains a mystery. Some are present throughoot winter in aw pairts o thair range. Young jays mey be mair likely tae migrate nor adults, but mony adults an aa migrate. Some individual jays migrate sooth ane year, stay north the next winter, an then migrate sooth again the next year. Tae date, no ane haes concretely wirked oot why thay migrate when thay do. Likely, it is relatit tae wather condeetions an hou abundant the winter fuid soorces are, which can determine whether ither northern birds will move sooth.[12]

The Blue Jay occupies a variety o habitats within its lairge range, frae the pine wids o Florida tae the spruce-fir forests o northren Ontario. It is less abundant in denser forests, preferrin mixed widlands wi oaks an beeches.[8] It haes expertly adaptit tae human activity, occurrin in pairks an residential areas, an can adapt tae wholesale deforestation wi relative ease if human activity creates ither means for the jays tae get bi.[13]

Subspecies[eedit | eedit soorce]

Fower subspecies are generally acceptit, tho the variation within this species is rather subtle an essentially clinal. No firm boundaries can be drawn atween the inland subspecies. The ranges o the coastal races are better deleemitit.[9]

  • Cyanocitta cristata bromia – northren Blue Jay
Canadae an northren USA. The lairgest subspecies, wi fairly dull plumage. Blue is rather pale.
  • Cyanocitta cristata cristata – coastal Blue Jay
Coastal USA frae North Carolina tae Texas, except soothren Florida. Mid-sized an vivid blue.
  • Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra – interior Blue Jay
Inland USA, intergradin wi C. c. bromia tae the north. Mid-sized, quite dark blue on mantle contrastin cleanly wi very white unnerside.
  • Cyanocitta cristata semplei – Florida blue Jay
Soothren Florida. The smawest subspecies, much lik C. c. bromia in colour.

Behavior[eedit | eedit soorce]

A Merlin chasin a Blue Jay

The Blue Jay is a noisy, bold an aggressive passerine. It is a moderately slow flier (roughly 32–40 km/h (20–25 mph)) when unprovoked.[14] It flies wi body an tail held level, wit slow wing beats. Due tae its slow flyin speeds, this species maks easy prey for hawks an houlets when flyin in open auries. Virtually aw the raptorial birds sympatric in distribution wi the Blue Jay mey predate it, especially swift bird-huntin specialists such as the Accipiter hawks. Diverse predators mey predate jay eggs an young up tae thair fledging stage, includin tree squirrels, snakes, cats, crows, raccoons, opossums, ither jays an possibly mony o the same birds o prey who attack adults.[15]

The Blue Jay can be beneficial tae ither bird species, as it mey chase predatory birds, such as hawks an houlets, an will scream if it sees a predator within its territory. It haes an aa been kent tae soond an alarm cry when hawks or ither dangers are near, an smawer birds eften recognize this cry an hide themselves away accordinly. It mey occasionally impersonate the crys o raptors, especially those o the Reid-tailed an Reid-shouldered Hawks, possibly tae test if a hawk is in the vicinity, tho an aa possibly tae scare off ither birds that mey compete for fuid soorces.[12] It mey an aa be aggressive towards humans who come close tae its nest, an if an houlet roosts near the nest durin the daytime the Blue Jay mobs it till it taks a new roost. However, Blue Jays hae an aa been kent tae attack or kill ither smawer birds an sleepin, foliage-roostin bat species such as Lasiurus borealis.[16] Jays are very territorial birds, an thay will chase ithers frae a feeder for an easier meal. Addeetionally, the Blue Jay mey raid ither birds' nests, stealin eggs, chicks, an nests. However, this mey nae be as common as is typically thocht, as anly 1% o fuid matter in ane study wis compromised bi birds.[12] Despite this, ither passerines mey still mob jays who come within thair breedin territories.

Blue Jays, lik ither corvids, are heichly curious an are considered intelligent birds. Young individuals playfully snatch brichtly coloured or reflective objects, such as bottle caps or pieces o aluminum foil, an carry them aroond till they lose interest.[16] While nae confirmed tae hae engaged in tuil uise in the wild, blue jays in captivity hae been observed uisin strips o newspaper as tuils tae obtain fuid,[12][17] while captive fledglins hae been observed attemptin tae open the duir tae thair cages [18]

Diet[eedit | eedit soorce]

Whole peanits an ither shelled fuid items are carried off in the beak tae be dealt wi at leisure.
Blue Jay crackin nits

Blue Jays hae strang black bills which thay uise for crackin nits an acorns, uisually while hauldin them wi thair feet, an for eatin corn, grains an seeds. Its fuid is soucht both on the grund an in trees an includes virtually aw kent types o plant an ainimal soorces, such as acorns an beech mast, weed seeds, grain, fruits an ither berries, peanuts, bread, meat, smaa invertebrates o mony types, scraps in toun pairks, bird-table fuid an rarely eggs an nestlins.[12] Blue Jays will sometimes cache fuid, tho tae whit extent differs widely amang individuals.[19] Altho seemingly contentious in thair general behavior, Blue jays are frequently subservient tae ither medium-sized birds who veesit bird-feeders. In Florida, Blue jays wur dominatit at feeders bi Eastren gray squirrels, Florida Scrub-Jays, Common Grackles an Reid-heidit Widpeckers, aw o which wur occasionally observed tae aggressively prevent the jays frae feedin.[12]

Reproduction[eedit | eedit soorce]

Nest in the tap o a little pine.

The matin saison begins in mid-Mairch, peaks in mid-Aprile tae Mey, an extends intae Julie. Ony suitable tree or lairge bush mey be uised for nestin, tho an evergreen is preferred. The nest is preferentially biggit at a hicht in the trees o 3 to 10 m (9.8 to 32.8 ft). It is cup-shaped an componed o twigs, smaa ruits, bark strips, moss, ither plant material, cloth, paper, an feathers, wi occasional mud addit tae the cup.

Blue Jays are nae very picky aboot nestin locations. If no better place is available – e.g. in a hivily deforestit aurie – thay will even uise places lik the lairge mailboxes typical o the rural Unitit States.[13] Thay an aa appropriate nests o ither mid-sized sangbirds as lang as these are placed in suitable spots; American robin nests are commonly uised by Blue Jays, for example.

Fledglin in mid-Juin
Fledglin heid

Blue Jays typically form monogamous pair bonds for life. Baith sexes big the nest an rear the young, tho anly the female bruids them. The male feeds the female while she is bruidin the eggs. Thare are uisually atween 3 an 6 (averagin 4 or 5) eggs laid an incubatit ower 16–18 days. The young fledge uisually atween 17–21 days efter hatchin.[16]

Efter the juveniles fledge, the faimily travels an forages thegither till early fall, when the young birds disperse tae avoid competeetion for fuid during the winter. Sexual maturity is reached efter ane year o age. Blue jays hae been recordit tae live for mair nor 26 years in captivity an ane wild jay wis foond tae hae been aroond 17 an a hauf years auld.[20] A mair common lifespan for wild birds that survive tae adulthuid is aroond 7 years.[citation needit] Beyond predation an the occasional collision wi man-made objects, a common cause o mortality in recent decades haes been the Wast Nile Virus, which corvids as a whole seem especially subceptible tae. However, despite several major local declines, oweraw Blue Jays hae nae seemed tae hae been depletit bi the disease.[15]

Vocalizations[eedit | eedit soorce]

Blue Jays can mak a lairge variety o soonds, an individuals mey vary perceptibly in thair cryin style. Lik ither corvids, thay mey learn tae mimic human speech. Blue Jays can an aa copy the cries o local hawks so well that it is sometimes difficult tae tell which it is.[21] Thair voice is typical o maist jays in bein varied, but the maist commonly recognized soond is the alarm cry, which is a loud, almaist gull-lik scream. Thare is an aa a heich-pitched jayer-jayer cry that increases in speed as the bird acomes mair agitatit. This particular cry can be easily confused wi the chickadee's sang acause o the slow stairtin chick-ah-dee-ee. Blue Jays will uise these crys tae band thegither tae mob potential predators such as hawks an drive them away frae the jays' nests.


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Blue Jays an aa hae quiet, almist subliminal calls which thay uise among themselves in proximity. Ane o the maist distinctive crys o this type is eften referred tae as the "rusty pump" owin tae its squeaky resemblance tae the soond o an auld hand-operatit watter pump. The Blue Jay (an ither corvids) are distinct frae maist ither sangbirds for uisin thair cry as a sang.

Cultural depiction an interpretation[eedit | eedit soorce]

In auld African-American folklore o the soothren Unitit States the blue jay wis held tae be a servant o the Devil, an "wis nae encoontered on a Friday as he wis fetchin sticks doun tae Hell; furthermair, he wis so happy an chirpy on a Setturday as he wis relieved tae return frae Hell".[22]

The blue jay wis adoptit as the team seembol o the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team, as well as some o thair minor-league affiliates. Thair mascot is Ace, an aa a blue jay.

The blue jay is the offeecial bird o the province o Prince Edward Island in Canadae.

Mordecai, an anthropomorphic blue jay, is ane o the main characters o the cartuin series Regular Show.

The Blue Jay is featurt in Mark Twain's "A Tramp Abroad", Chapter 3 "Baker,s Blue-Jay Yarn".

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Cyanocitta cristata". IUCN Red Leet o Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. Internaitional Union for Conservation o Naiture. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. Coues, Elliot (1890). Key to North American birds (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Estes and Lauriat. p. 326. OCLC 469020022. 
  3. "jaybird – definition of jaybird by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia". Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cornell Lab of Ornithology (1999): Bird Guide – Blue Jay. Retrieved 2007-MAY-29.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Frysinger, J. (2001): Animal Diversity Web: Cyanocitta cristata. Retrieved 2007-JUN-18.
  6. Jewell, S. D. 1986. Weights and wing lengths in Connecticut Blue Jays. Connecticut Warbler, 6: 47-49.
  7. Fisk, E. J. 1979. Fall and winter birds near Homestead, Florida. Bird-Banding 50:224-303.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nero, Robert W. (1991): Bird Fact Sheet – Blue Jay. Retrieved 2007-MAY-29.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Madge, Steve & Burn, Hilary (1994): Crows and jays: a guide to the crows, jays and magpies of the world. A&C Black, London. ISBN 978-0-7136-3999-5
  10. Carpenter, Anita (February 2003). "What Color is a Bluejay?". Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine. 
  11. Rhymer, Judith M. & Simberloff, Daniel (1996). "Extinction by hybridization and introgression". Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 27: 83–109. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.27.1.83. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Blue Jay. birds.cornell.edu
  13. 13.0 13.1 Henninger, W.F. (1906). "A preliminary list of the birds of Seneca County, Ohio". Wilson Bulletin 18 (2): 47–60. 
  14. Texas Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  15. 15.0 15.1 ADW: Cyanocitta cristata: INFORMATION
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Oiseaux.net (2008): Blue Jay. Version of 2008-FEB-13. Retrieved 2008-FEB-14.
  17. Jones, Thony B. & Kamil, Alan C. (1973). "Tool-Making and Tool-Using in the Northern Blue Jay". Science 180 (4090): 1076–1078. doi:10.1126/science.180.4090.1076. 
  18. American Rivers. tumblr.com
  19. AllAboutBirds.org – Blue Jay The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  20. "Longevity Records Of North American Birds". U. S. Geological Survey: Bird Banding Laboratory. Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  21. George, Philip Brandt. (2003): In: Baughman, Mel M. (ed.): Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., p. 279, ISBN 978-0-7922-3373-2
  22. Ingersoll, Ernest (1923). Birds in legend, fable and folklore. New York: Longmans, Green and co. pp. 166–167. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 

Further readin[eedit | eedit soorce]

Freemit airtins[eedit | eedit soorce]