Wild Profile: Meet the blue jay

Published: September 3, 2019

By FotoRequest/Shutterstock

One of the boldest and most boisterous of our cottage country avian friends, blue jays take to the skies in September, searching for food to stash and save for winter. Jays that stockpile enough sustenance to get them through the cold season can stay put. But if pickings are slim, they’ll head to central and southern U.S. Bring on the milder weather and better foraging!

Blue jays eat insects, eggs, and, every so often, small vertebrates—bats, birds—usually if they’re injured, dying, or already dead. But nuts make up the largest portion of a jay’s diet. A hard-working pair can gather and store 10,000 acorns, often in cracked logs or tree holes. Blue jays have a special sac in their throats called a “gular pouch.” This allows them to carry as many as five acorns at a time without choking.

These nut-loving corvids are famous for their huge vocabulary, with more vocalizations than plenty of other birds. They can also mimic—in particular, the calls of osprey, kestrels, and a variety of hawks. Sneaky! Captive blue jays, meanwhile, can learn to copy meowing cats, and even human speech.

 

Featured Video