Blue Jays

Photo credit Jongsun Lee

Blue jays are colorful and majestic, but also raucous. You always know when there are blue jays around. What I didn’t know is that one of those calls mimics a hawk. They do this to warn other birds that there actually is a hawk nearby. In other cases they use their hawk call to scare the other birds away from a feeder or other food source so they can have it all to themselves. Sneaky! Blue jays are talented mimics in other ways too, able to replicate many different sounds including a cat’s meow and human speech. These birds may be loud and obnoxious a lot of the time, but they are quiet and stealthy around their nest.

Blue jays belong to the corvid family, which includes ravens, crows, and magpies. Like their relatives, blue jays are highly intelligent. They have complex social networks and close family bonds. When they mate, they mate for life. While wild blue jays have not been observed using tools, jays in captivity have, fashioning different objects into tools to reach food.

Though they are omnivorous (eating WIDE variety of foods and often stealing from other birds), blue jays love acorns and will hide them for a future meal. In fact, a single blue jay may cache between 3,000 and 5,000 acorns in the fall. Sometimes those acorns are forgotten, sprout, and grow into new oaks. As a result of this behavior, blue jays help propagate oak trees and have even been given credit for spreading oak trees after the last glacial period. So if you love oaks, thank a blue jay!