She never goes unnoticed, the blue jay. Boisterous, boisterous, cheerful, boastful, naughty, thievish, these are the characteristics often attributed to the blue jay. Correct, by the way. It often moves in groups, and the shouts of a merry pack announce its presence to those around it.
About the size of an American robin, a member of the corvid family (crows, magpies and ravens), he is a funny guy with a talent for impersonation.
He easily and often reproduces the cries of other birds and mammals. He likes to imitate the hunting cry of the merlin and the sparrow hawk, which of course terrifies the birds and beasts that frequent the bush.
Among themselves, the members of the band continuously exchange a variety of hoarse shouts, reminiscent of continuous chatter, making their presence known.
Many stay with us year-round and will visit your feeder regularly if you offer them peanuts. It is a “light” migrant that will move only a few hundred kilometers south during the winter.
They can live 15 years. Therefore, it is likely that the blue jays that frequent your feeder year after year will remain the same. However, they are found everywhere in North America except the great prairies. They move little, being quite sedentary.
The plumage is spectacular. The bright blue mantle, wings and tail are dotted with black and white dots, which contrast with the white stripes of the wings and chest. The coat of arms is proudly worn and clearly visible depending on the mood of the moment. In fact, the plumage is not blue, because birds do not have this pigmentation. But the refraction of light on the structure of the feathers creates a dark blue reflection. If you find a blue jay feather, just wrinkle it a little and the blue will disappear.
Its diet is varied, almost omnivorous. Seeds, wild fruits, acorns, grains, nymphs, various insects, plants, and sometimes even an egg or chick in an open nest when it wanders in the forest. As already mentioned above, a feeder for peanuts, or a tray on which this food is poured, will ensure a noisy flock of visitors every day. And when the peanuts run out, loud protests will be numerous.
Despite this rather excessive behavior, blue jays lead very tidy and low-key lives as a couple. The period of temptation is short. The male everywhere accompanies the female who gave him consent for the season.
The nest will be strong, about 20 centimeters in diameter, often built from fresh twigs. It will be located on a tree, at a height of 3 to 10 meters above the ground. A pair begins to build several nests before finally deciding on a choice. It is part of the wedding ritual. Eggs arrive at the rate of one per day for five to six days. The female gives birth, the male feeds her. Later, he will accompany the female to feed the family. Throughout this period, the couple is very restrained, almost silent. The jay is cautious, never flies directly to the nest, sits nearby to monitor the absence of predators. He lands at the bottom of the tree where the family lives and gradually jumps from one branch to another to reach the nest, nothing in a hurry, discreet but bold. He does not hesitate to vigorously defend his nest against more shorebirds or squirrels.
In the summer, the blue jay molts. It is not uncommon to see a blue jay trying to slip ants under its wings. This behavior is called “shaping”. Biologists aren’t sure why, but it may have been to soothe the discomfort caused by the new feathers growing on its body.
In autumn, after the breeding season, small bands are formed, which become more visible and noisy. A beautiful bird to be cherished and admired throughout our 4 seasons.
Mid-summer is a slightly less active period for bird watching, mainly in the forest. Now is the breeding season, the young are vulnerable, the parents are restrained.
Then we can use this period to return to the river. Shorebirds and seabirds are numerous, visible and very active. It is easy to see how our common eiders walk on the water, sometimes followed by about twenty young. It looks strangely similar to a CPE release. Soon, around the middle of August, a 2-month migration period will begin for some species.
To your binoculars!