The Blue Jay is a passerine bird that belong to the species Cyanocitta cristata and the crow family Corvidae, a family that has been found in fossils that are more than 25 million years old. Passerine birds are small perching birds that live near the ground and have feet with four toes.
It is native to eastern and central North America, typically found in pairs or in small flocks. Annually, thousands of birds of this species migrate in flocks along their Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, with some migrating south one year and north next year. Hence, their migration has always been a mystery for scientists.
This is an endangered species that is white-faced and has a blue crest, back, wings, and tail. It is smaller than a crow but larger than an American robin. Its scientific name Cyanocitta cristata has been derived from Greek and Latin names meaning crested, blue chattering bird.
The bird's bright cobalt or azure-blue tail and wing feathers, which gives it the most exotic look, are not truly blue. Actually, the feather color is the result of a refraction or distortion of light by a particular inner structure of its feather. Hence, if the feather is crushed, its exotic blue color disappears.
This bird is basically a slow flier and usually ends up being a prey for hawks and owls when it flies in open areas. It flies with its body and tail held level and tends to lower its crest while feeding its family and other flock members. It sounds a typical familiar woodland sound in order to warn other birds and mammals from an approaching predator. It also issues a wide variety of other calls like a mellow whistle, a softly-delivered song, a continuous sweet trilling heard during courtship, and many more.
This bird is known to take and eat the eggs and nestlings of other birds. However, its diet usually includes all types of animal and plant sources like acorns and beech mast, weed seeds, grain, fruits and other berries, peanuts, bread, meat, and small invertebrates of different types. The bird buries or hides hoards of grains, nuts, and acorns in the knot holes or behind loose barks, which it forgets most of the time and is eaten by the mice and squirrels.
Unlike many others, the house plans of this bird are unique, with both the partners helping to build the nest and taking care of the young ones. The birdhouses or nests are bulky, untidy, about 18-20 cm in diameter, and made of small twigs, built using a variety of materials like lichens, moss, grass, and paper. The inner cup of the nest is around 10-12 cm in diameter, shaped with mud and lined with fine, soft rootlets and feathers. Before making the final nest, both the partners make several incomplete nests as a part of their courtship ritual. The nests are usually 3-10 m from the ground in a tree or shrub and in some cases, the bird also nests in settled areas like buildings or houses.
The female lays four or five eggs in a clutch which usually variegate in colors from buffy to greenish or bluish, spotted or marked with brown. The incubation period lasts from 16-18 days, and 17-20 days after hatching, the young ones are feathered and ready to leave the nest. Although they do start searching for food on their own, sometimes they are fed by their parents for one or two months longer.
The Blue Jay is a happy, cheerful, and intelligent bird that likes playing with and carrying around brightly-colored or reflective objects like bottle caps or pieces of aluminum foil, until it loses interest in them.