Bird’s ID – Blue Jay

Blue Jay


The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America. It resides through most of eastern and central United States, although western populations may be migratory. Resident populations are also found in Newfoundland, Canada, while breeding populations can be found in southern Canada. It breeds in both deciduous and coniferous forests, and is common in residential areas. It is predominantly blue with a white chest and underparts, and a blue crest. It has a black, U-shaped collar around its neck and a black border behind the crest. Both sexes are similar in size and plumage, and plumage does not vary throughout the year. Four subspecies of the blue jay have been recognized.

The blue jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates. It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. Like squirrels, blue jays are known to hide nuts for later consumption. It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing. The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots. Young are altricial, and are brooded by the female for 8–12 days after hatching. They may remain with their parents for one to two months.

ts plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are almost identical, but the male is slightly larger.

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; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears because the structure is destroyed. This is referred to as structural coloration.


Photo Gallery



© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

21 thoughts on “Bird’s ID – Blue Jay

  1. I’d never read about the cause of their feathers’ color. That was interesting, and worth a little more exploration. Now I need to find a fresh bluejay feather to experiment with!

    • The feather of many birds, looking very closely or under a microscope is a masterpiece of engineering and design. Thank you Linda. 🙂

  2. Thanks so much HJ for this interesting post on one of my favorites of your birds, love the colours. How interesting that the arrangement of the feathers gives such colour, we have several birds that do similar with the blue colour.

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