Blue Jays May Be Cute, But They're Airborne Jerks Of The Highest Order
Don't let their beauty or fact that they have a baseball team named after them deter you from thinking blue jay birds aren't a bunch of airborne jerks. They may be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but sometimes it seems other birds are the ones who need protection from mean blue jays. Dive bombing, stealing food, and even eating their victims babies are just a few of the intimidation tactics from the spooky smart blue jays.
Blue jays can be found east of the Rocky Mountains throughout North America and have commonly been spotted living near cities. They are related to crows and ravens and other genius corvid birds who have amazing intelligence and abilities. Blue jays may not hold court like crows, but they can mimic the cries of hawks, use tools, and work together in groups. If you've ever witnessed a blue jay going after another bird or even a human, you may have wondered "why are blue jays aggressive?" Here's a look at what's up with these blue jay jerks.
Blue Jays Have A Reputation For Aggressively Bullying Other Birds, But They’re Pretty Cool With Other Blue Jays
Many a blue jay has been spotted attacking other birds, stealing their food, and sometimes eating their victim's babies. While they appear to be bullies who push others away and greedily grab all the food they can, blue jays are cool towards their own kind. They are social birds and will form groups to create more power and opportunity through their numbers. Blue jays can also be extremely territorial over both their food and nesting areas, and are not afraid to attack other birds. They have also been observed diving at dogs, cats, and humans who get too close.
Although Vegetarian, They Are Not Completely Opposed To Eating Eggs And Baby BirdsVideo: YouTube
Blue jays are considered to be vegetarian, and enjoy eating peanuts, all kinds of seeds, and berries. In summer months, they will also eat insects such as grasshoppers and caterpillars. However, blue jays have also been known to be much more brutal with their dining choices, chosing to eat the offspring of other birds. Bluejays have been spotted attacking other birds' nests and eating either their young nestlings or eggs. There are also stories about blue jays eating mice, which certainly doesn't help their reputation any.
Like Crows, They’ve Been Observed Using Makeshift Tools To Obtain Food
Blue jays have proven to be very intelligent and resourceful, and have been observed using objects as tools. Researchers noted several blue jays raised in a lab ripping at the newspaper that lined the bottom of their cage, which they then used like a broom to collect out of reach food pellets. Intrigued, the researchers gave the birds other objects such as feathers, twist ties, and paper clips, and the blue jays were able to successfully use these items for the same purpose. After further testing, the lab members were surprised to discover six out of the eight birds they tested were able to use tools.
They Can Mimic The Calls Of Other Birds, And Frequently Do So To Steal Their FoodPhoto: GeoffClarke / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
In addition to using their crest to communicate, blue jays are extremely vocal. Anyone who's ever been awaken by their loud cries know these birds have a large vocabulary and are not afraid to use it. They also have the scary ability to mimic other sounds. Blue jays have been observed imitating the sound of a hawk in order to scare smaller birds away from bird feeders and steal their meal. Some captive blue jays have even been known to mimic a cat's meow or several human speech sounds.
They're Crafty Enough To Collect Acorns And Nuts And Store Them In The Ground For LaterVideo: YouTube
Blue jays have something called a gular pouch inside their throat, which they use to carry food around. They are able to carry up to five acorns this way, storing two or three in the pouch, one in their bill, and another in their mouth. If you've ever spotted a blue jay stuffing their face like a squirrel, it wasn't just because they're a greedy eater. The food they collect and don't immediately eat gets stored for later, most often in the ground. In fact, the blue jay is said to be largely responsible for helping oak trees flourish and spread after last glacial period after planting and forgetting about acorns across the country. So blue jays may be helpful in pollination, but they don't exactly help the small critters when it comes to swiping all of their food and hoarding it.
Those Who Don't Migrate In Winter Will Sometimes Form Tight Knit Groups With Clear Ranking OrderPhoto: Mike's Birds / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
While blue jays are not anti-social creatures, they tend to flock together during winter months and form tight knit groups. Not all blue jays migrate to escape the cold, and for reasons not completely known to researchers, some birds will stay behind. They believe blue jays form such groups to create more opportunities to locate food as well as protect each other from predators. However, even while living in a group rather than a pair, blue jays will establish a social hierarchy in order to obtain food and eat without fighting over who gets to go first. Blue jays aren't here to make friends, they're here to win.