October 11, 2014

The ubiquitous Blue jay, stealer of chips, chaser of cats, lone Canadian major league baseball team

Most bird watchers learn to identify the Blue jay as a child, the stuff of early readers “blue is for Blue jay” and the smiling, more recently frowning mascot for the Toronto baseball team, Blue jays are one of those birds “that everyone knows.” However, jays are more complicated than we may give them credit for. Members of the corvid or crow family, jays are intelligent socialites that stash acorns stores for winter and even migrate. If a jay seems to be extra jowly, gobbled with thick neck, they may be transporting “mast” the harvest of seeds and nuts produced in the forest. Acorns are a favorite and jays will carefully stash these precious swallows of fat and oils in trees, shallow holes, or under rocks to fortify them during the winter.  Beginning around the Jewish New Year Blue jays can be seen passing over roads in low flights above the tree tops. The jay’s flight style is an open winged glide, on surprisingly long “fingers” or primary flight feathers. An overall roundish wing, with blockish head, they often appear white and grey, the illusive blue of their back and head, washed out by the sky’s light. 

1 comment:

PhotoEditor61 said...

Hi Alex,

Last summer we saw some strange behavior on the part of a group of blue jays. They appeared to be repeatedly "falling" through the trees in our back yard. Once on the ground, they would fly to the top and do it again.

Were they trying to knock food out of the trees? Or just having fund?


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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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