02.19.17: Gathering of jays

Blue Jays gather on a limb in Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio. 


Technical information

April 28, 2007,
1:26 p.m.

39°56’22” N,
83°1'55" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/320th second


Blue Jays are, for lack of a better description, 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.

So when I saw these three jays gathered on a tree limb I thought it looked like the birds were plotting their next move.

They are very intelligent birds, after all.

But they are also very social birds with tight family bonds, so this could simply be a gathering of friends and relatives.

Note how the birds’ crests are down. That’s a sign that the birds are in a relaxed state, typical when associating with family or others in the flock. The crest position indicates the bird’s aggression level. The higher the crest, the more aggressive the bird is. A squawking, agitated Blue Jay almost always has a high crest.

I don’t have as many photos of Blue Jays in my collection as I do of other birds. Blue Jays are fun to watch but difficult to photograph. They tend to leave quickly when I point my camera their way. I typically see them flying by during their commute between oak trees or, during nesting season, diving at my head to protect their territory.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.