Some think of the blue jay as the bad boy of the birds. It has some habits which are aggressive. Others are not. We need to know about both.
First, we'll cover behavior of their eating the eggs and young of other birds. That does sound cruel. We really don't know how common this is. In a study of 530 stomachs, bird eggs and nestlings were in only six of them.
Actually, a study showed that stomach contents of these birds over the year include 22 percent insects. The remaining contents included mostly acorns and nuts, fruits, and grains. The acorn is this bird's favorite nut. We should be very grateful about this choice. After all, what goes in the bill has to come out you know where. This bird is actually credited with spreading oak trees since the glacial times. Way to go, blue jay!
This bird is considered to be intelligent. Captive blue jays have been reported to pull food pellets from outside their cages with pieces of newspaper.
The blue jay is normally very handsome. However, folks are alarmed if they see one without any feathers on its head. Maybe it is molting, which happens in summer and fall, which are the times when the bald-headed ones are seen. Maybe the bird seen is a juvenile that is going through its first molt.
Maybe the condition is caused by mites or lice, or some environmental or nutritional problem. The good thing is that the feathers are replaced. Here's the issue. Normally, the blue jay loses its feathers in stages. The bald blue jay loses all of its head feathers at once. However, don't worry. New head feathers grow in within a few weeks.
Have you ever seen the blue jay with its crest lowered? That happens when it is feeding peacefully with its family and flock members or tending to nestlings. The crest is raised in relationship to how aggressive it feels. Obviously, when I see the bird, it is being aggressive towards me. Someday, I hope to see it with its family.
Surprise! Its feathers are not really blue. They are actually brown caused by a pigment named melanin. Scattering light passing through cells on the outside of the feather barbs cause some feathers to appear blue.
For me, if you see one blue jay, you've seen them all. They seem to all look alike. Maybe the birds use the black bridle on the face, nape and throat to know each other apart. Those areas are different for each bird. Here's an idea to help you understand how that works. Why not look at several photographs of different blue jays. Put numbers on the photo backs. Then, mix the order of the photos up, and see if you can still rearrange them in the original order.
This is a good time to put out feeders for the birds. It gives them time to spread the word that you're helping them again.
Florida folks view more Florida scrub-jays, common grackles and gray squirrels than blue jays at their feeders. Do you see many jays at your feeders? If you do, the same ones could be returning for many years.
In conclusion, this handsome, raucous, intelligent bird can fool us. It likes to pretend it's a red-shouldered hawk with its call. When birding, if I think that I am hearing a hawk, I need to look for the common blue jay. The jay could be warning other jays that there really is a hawk around, or maybe it is just tricking other birds to think that there is a hawk in the area.
For the blue jay and all other wildlife, let's protect their environment.