The Riverdale “Wilds”, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
July 22, 2010
The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird, and a member of the family Corvidae native to North America. It belongs to the “blue”, Canadian or American jays, which are, among the Corvidae, not closely related to other jays. It is adaptable, aggressive and omnivorous, and has been colonizing new habitats for many decades.
The male Blue Jay measures 22–30 cm (9–12 in) from bill to tail and weighs 70–100 grams (2.47–3.53 oz), with a wingspan of 34–43 cm (13–17 in). There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers, which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood. When excited or aggressive, the crest may be fully raised. When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike. When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting, the crest is flattened to the head.
Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest, back, wings, and tail, and its face is white. The underside is off-white and the neck is collared with black which extends to the sides of the head. The wing primaries and tail are strongly barred with black, sky-blue and white. The bill, legs, and eyes are all black. Males and females are nearly identical except that males are slightly larger.
As with other blue-hued birds, the Blue Jay’s coloration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears as the structure is destroyed. This is referred to as structural coloration.
Blue Jays have strong black bills used for cracking nuts and acorns, and for eating corn, grains and seeds, although they also eat insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.
Jays are some of the more intelligent birds. They will wait and watch for a person to put food down and as soon as the person walks away they will swoop down and steal it. Along with crows, jays will also watch a person planting seed crops and afterwards dig up and eat the seeds. Jays are very territorial birds, and they will chase others from a feeder for an easier meal. The Blue Jay has a bad reputation as a raider of other birds’ nests, stealing eggs, chicks, and nests. However, this may not be as widespread as is typically thought.
Blue Jays, like other corvids, are highly curious and very intelligent birds. Young individuals playfully snatch brightly coloured or reflective objects, such as bottle caps or pieces of aluminium foil, and carry them around until they lose interest. Blue Jays in captivity have been observed using strips of newspaper as tools to obtain food.
In old African American folklore of the southern United States, the Blue Jay was held to be a servant of the Devil, and was not encountered on a Friday as he was fetching sticks down to Hell; furthermore, he was so happy and chirpy on a Saturday as he was relieved to return from Hell.
Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 to 300, at 300 mm
iso 100, spot metered, F6.7, 1/60 second