Nature Bulletin No. 133 November 29, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation
Where there are blue jays there is action. Of all our winter birds, only
its relative, the crow, is smarter or more noisy. Only the bright red
cardinal is as colorful. In autumn the blue jays gather in small flocks
and, from then until the nesting season in spring, you will see them
flying through the woodlands and hear their cold hard screams.
They are quick to find a feeding tray in your back yard. They eat
greedily, stabbing at the food, and then fly away with the biggest
chunks they can carry. They delight in diving at the tray to scatter the
smaller birds, but a downy woodpecker will pay them no attention, and
they fly when a brown thrasher darts at them with out-thrust beak.
They are all bluff and bluster.
Males and females are hard to distinguish. Larger than a robin, the
blue jay is a handsome bird light gray below, a black collar and blue
above. The wings and long tail are a brighter blue with showy
markings of white and black. With its conspicuous blue crest, black
beady eyes and long sharp beak, the blue jay looks like a bold smart
rascal. And it is. They have a bad reputation for eating the eggs and
young of other birds.
they are responsible for the planting of many trees, because they
like acorns and beech nuts and, like squirrels, hide and bury more
acorns and nuts for winter use than they can ever find. They also are
important as destroyers of insects. In spring and early summer they
feed almost entirely on insects. In winter, about half of their food is the
larvae and eggs of insects. They are also fond of berries, and of grains
people know that the blue jay is second only to the mockingbird
as an imitator of the calls of other birds -- from the mewing of the
catbird to the scream of a red-tailed hawk.
The noisy boid annoys a woim!
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Update: June 2012