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Bird Identification

Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata Length: 11"

Look For

Handsome, members of the Corvid family (crows and their relatives), Blue Jays are bold and obvious birds much of the year. In flight, the Blue Jay shows a mostly blue back with white inner wingtips (secondaries) and white outer tail tips.

Listen for

Most common vocalization is a harsh, scolding jaay, jaay! Jays also make a variety of other calls, including bell-like whistles and a rusty-gate sound, and they can imitate the calls of raptors, particularly the descending scream of the Red-shouldered Hawk.


This is the largest blue songbird found in the East. There are several other jays in the West, but only the Steller's Jay is both crested and mostly blue.

Find it

Widespread and common all year round in mixed woodlands, city parks, and backyards, where they will come to bird feeders. Northern birds migrate southward in fall, flying in large loose flocks during the day.


While a jay may cache thousands of acorns in its lifetime, many are never dug up and consumed but left to grow into oak trees instead.

This profile is an excerpt from The Young Birder's Guide by Bill Thompson, III. Purchase an autographed copy from our nature store, and check out other BWD titles designed to help you identify backyard birds.

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