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Blue Jay

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

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. They often mate for life, remaining with their social mate throughout the year. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.

The pigment in blue jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue color is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.


Photo: @bellemare celine


2.5-3.5 ounces


9.8-11.8 inches

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Most of their diet is composed of insects, nuts, acorns, fruits and grains. Blue jays hold food items in feet while pecking them open. They store food in caches to eat later.


Blue jays are found in all kinds of forests but especially near oak trees; they’re more abundant near forest edges than in deep forest. They’re common in urban and suburban areas, especially where oaks or bird feeders are found.


Thousands of blue jays migrate in flocks along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts, but much about their migration remains a mystery. Some are present throughout winter in all parts of their range. Young jays may be more likely to migrate than adults, but many adults also migrate. Some individual jays migrate south one year, stay north the next winter, and then migrate south again the next year. No one has worked out why they migrate when they do.

Did You Know?

Besides their raucous jay! jay! calls, Blue jays make a variety of musical sounds, and they can do a remarkable imitation of the scream of a red-shouldered hawk.

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