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Striking blue jays hit it out of the ballpark (7 photos)

Blue jays can be raucous, just like their fans, and have a wide variety of calls, notes birding columnist

Although the Toronto baseball team is based in Florida for the time being, blue jays are in Ontario’s forest edges, parks, and backyards, including mine.

I don’t recall a winter where blue jays have not visited the yard, their colour providing a lift to the winter blahs. According to site on blue jays, “Individuals that depart an area in autumn may be replaced by those migrating from farther north.”

Apparently migration of blue jays is not fully understood. Flocks of thousands migrate along the Great Lakes and Atlantic coasts yet the distance travelled varies and in most areas blue jays are resident year-round. I have no idea if the birds of summer are the same individuals I see in winter.

It’s also difficult to distinguish males and females, as they are similar in colouration. It is interesting to know from that blue jays may recognize one another by the black “bridle” across the face, nape and throat as this varies extensively in individuals.

Blue jays tend to mate for life, and display romantic behaviours. says that mated individuals “often nudge, pass twigs, and ‘kiss’”. Males also provide all the food the female needs during incubation. He may even feed her prior to this. While they are nesting, they are quieter than at other times.

Blue jays can be raucous, just like their fans, and have a wide variety of calls. They can even mimic sounds. “Captive blue jays sometimes learn to imitate human speech and meowing cats”, says the site. It adds, “In the wild, they often mimic Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks, and sometimes other species.”

Despite their noisiness, they are not as aggressive as one may think in terms of other birds. reports on a study where grey squirrels and a number of birds including Red-bellied and Red-Headed Woodpeckers, Common Grackles, and even at times Mourning Doves and Northern Cardinals dominated blue jays at feeders, often preventing them from feeding. It is perhaps this annoyance that sometimes prompts the blue jays to mimic a hawk call when approaching a feeder. This tricks the other birds, but not for long.

Blue jays also have more subtle modes of communication.

“When incubating, feeding nestlings, or associating with mate, family, or flock mates, the crest is held down; the lower the crest, the lower the bird’s aggression level”, says

Something else kind of cool is blue jays' ability to carry food in their throat and upper oesophagus, a “gular pouch”. Peanuts may be popular in ballparks, but acorns are the natural favourites of blue jays.

Their diet also includes beechnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, seeds, fruits, grains and insects. “They may store two to three acorns in the pouch, another one in their mouth, and one more in the tip of the bill,” says

They hide or “cache” food for later. For immediate consumption, they hold seeds and nuts with their feet while cracking them open with their beaks.

I’m a Blue Jay baseball fan, but this striking bird hits it out of the ball field.

I share experiences of bird visitors to this property with readers every couple of weeks. Until next time, keep your eye to the sky, and look for birds that may come by.

Rosaleen Egan is a freelance journalist, a storyteller, and a playwright. She blogs on her website.


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