11.18/Blue Jays

Featured for November: The bad boys of the bird community

Blue Jays are, for lack of a better description, are the bad boys of the bird community. They are noisy and bold, they can be aggressive and they tend to travel in groups — kind of like a blue-clad bird street gang.

They are fun to watch but difficult to photograph. They tend to leave quickly when I point my camera their way.

But I’ve been fortunate to capture a few images of Blue Jays in local parks and forests over the years. Some of the photos show a bit of the Blue Jay’s personality and occasionally regal behavior.

Note that Blue Jays are year-round residents of Central Ohio, so the images in the gallery include photos from all four seasons. A number of the photos, especially the close-ups, were taken during the winter when I sometimes use a shed in Blendon Woods Metro Park near Columbus, Ohio, as a blind to photograph birds as they wait to visit a nearby feeder.

Some of these photos show a Blue Jay with its crest raised. Others show the crest held down. The crest position can be used by Blue Jays for communicating. When around a mate, family or other jays in a flock, the crest is often held down, indicating a low aggression level. The higher the crest, the higher the aggression level. The crest is almost always up when the bird calls or squawks.

Blue Jays also have a wide variety of vocalizations or calls, and they are known to mimic other birds — most commonly Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks. I often hear the hawk call when a Blue Jay is approaching a crowded feeder in the winter. The call deceives other birds into scattering, providing the jay with open access to the feeder.

I add a new featured gallery the first of each month. The numbers in the gallery title represent the month and year it was featured. Last month’s featured gallery, with photos of fall colors, has been moved to my featured gallery archives. 

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