Ten Common Birds Of The GTA

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Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Family: Corvidae

The Blue Jay is definitely one of my favorite birds. It’s not hard to miss the beautiful standout blue colors that you can easily spot in your backyard. This amazing bird is a native bird of North America; it belongs to the “blue” Canadian or American Jays, and is not exactly closely related to other Jays. Famous for the people of Toronto, this magnificent bird is the main logo and mascot of yours truly, The Toronto Blue Jays. Blue jays are natural forest dwellers (the birds, not the team), but they are also extremely adaptable and clever birds. They have a very recognizable loud presence around bird feeders throughout Toronto. The blue Jay's very distinctive loud call actually sounds like it is yelling “Jay Jay” when they vocalize. This bird is very smart, and very sneaky, they are known to mimic the sounds of other birds, most notably the red tailed hawk. Our native Baseball Team is proud to have such a strong, powerful and intelligent bird to be the face of their team!

Keys To Identification

Size:

They average to about 12 inches. (30.5 centimeters) in length (fully grown), and weigh about 70 - 100 grams (2.5 – 3.5 ounces). They have a wingspan of about 13 - 17 inches (34 - 44 centimeters).

Description:

Blue Jays have a crested long tail that is wedge shaped. They have a miraculous violet blue color on their upper bodies, and even more blends of blue on their wings and tail. They have a white face, white throat, white/gray undersides, small white bars on their wings and a bit of white on their tail tips also.

Adult: Distinctive by size and bright blue colors.
Juvenile: Baby Blue Jays are obviously much smaller, and don’t have a bright blue plumage till later on in development.

Sounds Like:

Voice:

The Blue Jay is very noisy, often times their sounds are diverse. They can range from a loud pitch shriek, or simply imitating a red Tailed Hawk. (Sounds creaky) They will sing using a low mixture of whistles and sweet notes, often replicating the sounds of various small birds.

Behavior/Habits:

The Blue Jays is commonly known as being incredibly active and very aggressive. If you have a feeder in your backyard, you will probably see the Blue Jay dominating the feeder scaring other birds away. They usually start making a racket of noise, using loud cries to warn off intruders. Blue Jays are very sneaky, and when they use their loud tactics to scare off other birds, they are always weary of keeping their own nest a secret, they are particularly very stealthy birds. When they aren’t attacking the feeders, Blue Jays are known to store other foods for the winter; they particularly bury acorns in the ground and save them for a nice snack later. If you see a Blue Jay on the floor, or on your lawn, you would see it hopping around, not walking. The Blue Jays are very intelligent birds, and are also very family oriented birds. Most Blue Jays will in fact mate for life, and stay with their social partner throughout the year! They share a very tight social bond that is respectable despite their bullying ways at the feeders.

Habitat:

Blue Jays are birds of forest edges. They can be found in all kinds of forests but particularly near oak trees; they’re more abundant near forest edges than in deep forests. They’re common in urban and suburban areas, especially where oaks or bird feeders are found. I have seen a few Blue Jays feeding on my feeder in my backyard on more than one occasion. They seem to be comfortable enough to stick around and eat.

Food:

These birds are omnivorous, eating insects, berries, nuts and seeds. They are known to eat pretty much whatever they find, eating nuts and seeds and grains that they will find on the ground. They will also feed on small dead or injured vertebrates. Blue Jays also have a bad reputation for sometimes raiding nests for eggs and nestlings. Blue Jays also have the ability to hold food in their throat, and can store multiple items there at a time, perhaps saving them for later. When they come across a nut, or something hard that needs to be opened, they will hold the item in-between their feet while pecking them open.

Similar birds:

Going up north in the Huntsville area I came across a Gray Jay. Looks pretty much exactly the same, only difference is that it is gray and not blue. Other Jays that are similar to the Blue Jay would be the Stellar Jay, and the Scrub Jay. The Stellar Jay has less white on their wings and its head and chest are black, they are also much darker on their undersides. The Stellar Jay also has a pretty sweet dark Mohawk too. Scrub Jays have solid blue tails and wings and have white lines on them. I personally think the Blue Jay is the best looking of this group!

(Pictures:Gray Jay *left*,Stellar Jay *middle*, Scrub Jay*right*)

Range: (the geographical area where this species can be found)

 

The Blue Jays locations start from southern Canada and through the eastern and central United States of America, they head south to Florida and northwest towards Texas for winter non-breeding. The West side of the range will abruptly stop where the scrub habitat of the closely related Stellar Jay begins.

Interesting Facts: 

An interesting fact that I came across was about a captive Blue Jay and how he was smart enough to actually use old newspaper from his cage, and gather fallen seeds from outside of his enclosure. I wasn’t even aware that you could keep a Blue Jay captive? Maybe a discussion is needed on one of the forums? Regardless, I just found this amazing! How the bird was actually smart enough to realize that he dropped some seeds outside his cage, and actually create a tool from newspapers to gather all of the fallen seeds outside his cage. Simply Amazing! 

Other:

It could go without mention that this beautiful bird is the icon and representing face of the Toronto Blue Jays. A bird, and a team, with such pride and prestige; it goes without question that the Toronto Blue Jays are represented by a bird of beauty. The Toronto Blue Jays were founded in 1977, and they hold 2 national championships in 1992 - 1993. Nothing beats the original oldschool Blue Jay logo seen below!

 

Below is a very brief but informative video that I came across. An interesting note that wasn't mentioned above was that the Blue Jay actually changes aggression patterns with its chest.             Video Courtesy of  James Knott, March 2009

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Credits:

"Blue Jay Glamor." All About Birds. Web. 11 Nov 2009. <http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/blue_jay_glamour.jpg>.

"Blue Jay." Birds Art. Web. 9 Nov 2009. <http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2007/Morgan/assets/blue%20jay%20homepage.jpg>.

"Gray Jay." Tropical Audubon Society. Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://www.tropicalaudubon.org/Rockies08/GrayJay01.html>.

"Stellar Jay." Hart Park. Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://hartpark.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/stellarjay.jpg>.

"Scrub Jay." Birds By Barn Off. Web. 14 Nov 2009. <http://birdsbybaranoff.com/images/2887-scrub-jay.jpg>.

"Blue Jay Range Map." All About Birds. Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/cyan_cris1_AllAm_map.gif>.

"Toronto Blue Jays Classic Logo." Sports Logos. Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://www.sportslogos.net/images/logos/53/78/full/w0rjnhqvybgipw00gyt5hrgaa.gif>.

"Wikipedia." Web. 13 Nov 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Jay>.

"Knot, James. Youtube." Blue Jay HD Mini Documentary. Web. 13Nov 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXbJpi3EIoY>. 

Ransom, Jay Ellias. Complete Filed Guide To North American Wildlife. Eastern Edition. New York: Harper and Row, 140-141. Print.

 

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