The Blue jay is always a show stopper when it visits the feeder. It is big, bold, brash and blue. It seems fitting to profile the Blue jay this week, when another big, bold, brash and blue entity, the New York Giants will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI this weekend. Lets Go Giants!

The Blue jay is as easily recognizable as any other bird likely to visit your feeder. It is stunning blue with a prominent crest on the head, and much larger than any other bird except the Red-bellied woodpecker. It simply cannot be confused with any other bird.       

Despite being very common, there is a great deal about their life history that is not well-known. They apparently mate for life and form complex social bonds with other family members. They are reported to also communicate both vocally and through body language and the position of the crest on the head. Although in East Brunswick, Blue jays are found year round, even information about their seasonal and migratory habits is not well-known. In some years certain individuals may migrate south, in other years, they may not migrate at all. Apparently some of the birds we see in New Jersey in the winter are not even the same ones we see at other seasons. Some research suggests that birds in the mid-Atlantic states and the northeast may migrate south in the winter and be replaced by other birds that have migrated south into the area from points even further north. In any case, Blue jays can be found year round in East Brunswick in suburban areas and parks. They are most easily found anywhere there are acorns which is their favorite winter food.        

Blue jays can be dominating and aggressive at the feeder, pushing other birds away to get at the seeds. Hopefully next weekend the New York Giants will do the same to the New England Patriots by dominating possession of the ball! It is easy to observe how quickly other birds abandon feeding when a Blue jay shows up at the feeder. We can only hope the New England Patriots do the same when Big Blue shows up in Indianapolis, at least with pass receptions, first downs and scoring.

Blue jays have a large number of calls and often mimic other birds, especially Red-shouldered hawks. They can make the Red-shouldered hawk call convincingly well. Over the years on many occasions I have tracked down a calling Red-shouldered hawk in the woods only to find a Blue jay mimicking its calls.    

Blue jays are quite brash and are often the loudest and most persistent birds mobbing a hawk or owl in the woods. They can be unrelenting until the raptor flies off and is no longer a perceived threat. Locating the frenzied calls of Blue jays in the woods will often lead right to an owl or hawk as the jays swoop in and try to scare it off. Lets hope the New York Giants are as persistent and irritating to Tom Brady's team next weekend as the Blue jays are to a hawk or owl.

Blue jays can be found in all of our parks. Use the Friends Online Guide to East Brunswick Parks to find some places to look for them. The Guide is available at: http://www.friendsebec.com/parks. A new park was just added.

For more information about Blue jays visit the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology website at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blue_jay/id/ac.

Published on the EB Patch Jan 30, 2012

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