17 Fun Facts About Blue Jays

They are some of the best-recognizable birds in the United States and Canada.

In this post, you’ll discover a cool list with fun facts about Blue Jays.

1. Where do Blue Jays live?

Blue Jays have a wide range in North America. It extends from southern Canada throughout the central and eastern parts of the United States. In the south, their range extends to Florida and the northeastern part of Texas.

Their range is currently extending towards the northwest so they can sometimes be spotted on the Northern US and southern Canadian Pacific Coast.

The western edge of their range stops in the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

2. How did Blue Jays get their name?

Blue Jays can be very noisy and have quite a temper. They are also known to be quite sociable and have been described as “gregarious songbirds of the family Corvidae.”

They are easily recognized because of their bright blue plumage that is covering the head, neck, and tail of the bird.

fun facts about blue jays

3. These birds have a popular nickname

The name “jay” is also used to define other birds of the family Corvidae. These passerine songbirds have numerous family members such as crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, magpies, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers.

Blue Jays are often simply referred to as “jaybirds.”

4. They were first mentioned in the year 1731

Most of the animal species have first been described in Carl Linnaeus’ 1758 edition of “Systema Naturae.” Blue Jays have an earlier mention though which dates back to the year 1731.

They were first described by English naturalist Mark Catesby in his work “Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas.”

In this work, they were described as “Pica glandaria cærulea cristata.”

Blue Jay facts

5. It’s modern scientific name dates back to the year 1845

Carl Linnaeus had described the jaybird as “Corvus cristatus.” A later mention by French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte referred to the bird in 1838 as “Cyanocorax cristatus.”

Blue Jays finally acquired their modern scientific name, Cyanocitta cristata, in 1845 by English ornithologist Hugh Edwin Strickland.

The word “Cyanocitta” derives from a combination of the Greek words for blue (kyaneos) and “chattering bird” (kitta).

6. What are the Blue Jay subspecies?

Even though there are a total of 4 subspecies that are generally accepted, the distinction between these subspecies is rather minimal.

The 4 subspecies are:

  • Northern blue jay – Cyanocitta cristata bromia
  • Coastal blue jay – Cyanocitta cristata cristata
  • Interior blue jay – Cyanocitta cristata cyanotephra
  • Florida blue jay – Cyanocitta cristata semplei

As you surely noticed, they are defined by the area they live in.

Blue jay in tree

7. How big are Blue Jays and how much do Blue Jays weigh?

The more south they live the skinnier they are. The Blue Jays living in the north can use an extra layer of fat, so these are the heaviest of all. This is consistent with Bergmann’s rule that stipulates that species in the north are heavier than species living in the south.

Blue Jays living in Florida are used to warm temperatures and don’t need the layer of fat, so these tend to be much lighter.

Blue Jays can measure between 22 to 30 centimeters (9 to 12 inches) and weigh on average between 70 to 100 grams (2.5 to 3.5 oz). They have an average wingspan of 34 to 3 centimeters (13 to 17 inches).

8. Their blue crest tells a lot about how they feel

One of the most interesting and fun facts about Blue Jays is that their crest basically reveals what kind of mood this bird is in.

If they are angry or simply excited, they tend to fully raise their crest. If they are afraid, their crest moves outward. If they are relaxed, their crest simply remains flat on top of their heads.

blue jay crest raised

9. Are Blue Jays adaptive to their environment?

Blue Jays don’t have a specific type of habitat that they prefer. The only exception is dense forests as you won’t really find them there. They do, however, enjoy mixed woodlands, in particular with oaks and beeches.

This also means that they aren’t really affected by deforestation and can easily adapt to the presence of humans. They will live in parks and even residential areas and are known to make their nests close to where humans live.

One of the most fun facts about Blue Jays is that they even make their nest in large mailboxes if they find a suitable one!

10. How fast can Blue Jays fly?

Jaybirds aren’t the best fliers. In fact, they are pretty slow as their average flying speed is only about 32 to 40 km/h (20 to 25 mph), even though they can fly a bit faster when they are chased.

11. Do Blue Jays have any predators to worry about?

And that’s the problem with their flying speed because this makes them easy targets for much faster predators such as hawks and owls. This means they constantly need to be on the lookout when flying in open areas.

Yes, the life of Blue Jays is one of constant danger, and on top of that, they also need to protect their nests because tree squirrels, snakes, cats, crows, raccoons, and opossums, might also prey on their eggs and young.

Blue Jay chased by Merlin / John Harrison / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

12. Are Blue Jays intelligent?

A life of constant danger requires Blue Jays to outsmart their predators. This has ensured these birds have evolved into very intelligent animals.

They make noises to warn other birds of danger, are very creative when it comes to making a nest that is sheltered from predators, and in captivity, they are known to be very playful and curious.

Yes, Blue Jays are some of the most intelligent birds on the planet!

13. What do Blue Jays Eat?

Another one of those fun facts about Blue Jays is that they have very strong black bills which they can use to easily crack open nuts. They can also use them for eating corn, grains, and seeds.

Blue Jays are pretty much omnivores as they are known to eat all types of plant and animal sources. These include acorns and beech mast, weed seeds, grain, fruits and other berries, peanuts, bread, meat, small invertebrates of many types, and whatever scraps in town parks they can find.

14. When do Blue Jays Mate?

Blue Jays have a fixed mating season every single year. This begins in mid-March, peaks in mid-April to May, and can extend all the way into July.

The usual nest consists of 3 to 6 eggs which are incubated for a period of 16 to 18 days. After the young are born, it takes only 17 to 21 days before they can fly.

The young birds stay with their family until the winter and reach sexual maturity after about one year, which is the time they will start their own family.

15. Are Blue Jays monogamous?

One of the most interesting facts about Blue Jays is that they form bonds for life, which means they are monogamous and stick to one partner.

They also have their tasks in the family as the female broods and the male finds food and feeds both the female and the young during this period.

Yes, both sexes are involved in raising their family!

16. Can Blue Jays talk?

These birds are known for their very vocal presence. This also means they have developed a very unique vocal style, which is different from every individual.

The most famous vocalization is their call when danger is looming. This scream is really loud and typical of Blue Jays.

They also have the ability to mimic the sounds of human beings, which is a quality most birds in the family Corvidae possess.

Blue Jays can take this a step further though and actually mimic the sounds of a predator in an attempt to drive them away from their nest. When you hear a Blue Jay trying to sound like for example a hawk, it’s impossible to tell if it’s the Blue Jay or the hawk doing the talking!

17. How long do Blue Jays live?

Blue Jays have a very long lifespan for birds. In the wild, they tend to live between 14 and 17 years long if dying of natural causes, and in captivity, this age can be extended to up to 26 years!

This means that Blue Jays have some of the longest lifespans of all birds in North America!

Unfortunately, Blue Jays have a lot of predators who see them as an easy target for a quick meal, so they usually don’t live much longer than 7 to 8 years on average.