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Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CORVIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Blue Jay Photo

This common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.

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Songs

The Blue Jay vocalization most often considered a song is the “whisper song,” a soft, quiet conglomeration of clicks, chucks, whirrs, whines, liquid notes, and elements of other calls; a singing bout may last longer than 2 minutes.

Calls

Blue Jays make a large variety of calls. The most often heard is a loud jeer, Also makes clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. Blue Jays frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-shouldered Hawks.

Other Sounds

Blue Jays may snap their bills in intense aggressive displays. When caught in a trap or when nestlings are taken from nest, may hammer beak loudly on perch.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Blue Jays prefer tray feeders or hopper feeders on a post rather than hanging feeders, and they prefer peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. Planting oak trees will make acorns available for jays of the future. Blue Jays often take drinks from birdbaths. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Find This Bird

Blue Jays are most often detected by their noisy calls. Near shorelines they migrate in loose flocks; you can recognize them by their steady flight, rounded wings, long tail, and white underside. Resident birds may associate in flocks; they usually fly across open areas one at a time, often silently. Also watch for them at feeders.

Get Involved

Keep track of the Blue Jays at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

Look for Blue Jay nests and contribute valuable data about them through NestWatch

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How Can I Quell the Invasion of Blue Jays at My Feeder? An answer from Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick

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What Are Those Jays Eating? Northeastern Blue Jays have a fondness for house paint

Have you seen a bald Blue Jay? Read our web page on bald-headed birds.