Garreth's Wildlife Watch

Blue Jay

(2014-04-16) Here on Prince Edward Island we are blessed with a wonderful variety of avian species. Due to our geographic position upon the eastern coast of North America, our little isle makes a great resting spot for migrating bird populations. These exciting birds can both be colourful in plumage and in character. In this edition of the Wildlife Watch I would like write a little bit about a bird species that all Islanders should be rather familiar with. Our provincial bird the Blue Jay, an extremely interesting personality in the bird world.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is easily recognized by its eye-catching, light blue mantle, hood, tail-feathers and primaries. A nice contrast is created by its white throat and breast. It has black and white wing bars, as well as a ring of black around the neck. A member of the Corvidae family, the Blue Jay was elected the Provincial bird of Prince Edward Island in 1977 by the PEI Legislative Assembly. This handsome bird is common to PEI year round, even through the harsh winters. Blue Jays do migrate in loose flocks as well, however a great number remain north.

With their strong bills, blue jays can feed on a variety of nuts and acorns, these are a staple in their diet. It seems quite fitting that one of their favourite foods is provided by our provincial tree, the Red Oak. Sexual dimorphism is not too obvious in this species, though the male tends to be slightly larger. The average size of the blue jay is roughly 70 to 100 g in weight and 30 cm in length from the bill to the tail. They can live to be about seven years old in the wild. Blue Jays have the reputation of being loud and aggressive birds and have a wide range of calls. Jays are able to mimic the calls of such raptors as, sharp-shinned hawk, Red-shouldered hawk and red-tailed hawk. Theories of why these vocalizations are made range from warning of danger, to frightening other birds away from food.

Blue Jays are also quite carnivorous, they eat large quantities of insects and have also been known to eat the eggs and young of other birds. They do have a soft side however, blue jays are monogamous and mates form long lasting partnerships to parent the next generation.

About the Author

Garreth Ashley recently graduated from the Wildlife Conservation Technology program at Holland College and is currently at University. He is a former employee and also a former Board Member of Kensington North. His blog, Wildlife Watch, is a collection of his own observations of wildlife on PEI.

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