Acrylic on canvas by Amalia Jonas
The bird’s name derives from its noisy,
garrulous nature, and it sometimes also called a “jaybird”.
The Blue Jay measures 9–12 in (22–30 cm) from bill to tail
and weighs 2.5–3.5 oz (70–100 g).
There is a pronounced crest on the head, a crown of feathers,
which may be raised or lowered according to the bird’s mood.
When excited or aggressive, the crest may be fully raised.
When frightened, the crest bristles outwards, brushlike.
When the bird is feeding among other jays or resting,
the crest is flattened to the head.
Its plumage is lavender-blue to mid-blue in the crest,
back, wings, and tail, and its face is white.
The bill, legs, and eyes are all black.
Males and females are nearly identical.
As with most other blue-hued birds, the Blue Jay’s coloration
is not derived from pigments but is the result of light
interference due to the internal structure of the feathers,
if a blue feather is crushed, the blue disappears
as the structure is destroyed.
This is referred to as structural coloration.
The Blue Jay mainly feeds on nuts and seeds such as acorns, soft fruits, arthropods, and occasionally small vertebrates.
It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air.
It builds an open cup nest in the branches of a tree, which both sexes participate in constructing.
The clutch can contain two to seven eggs, which are blueish or light brown with brown spots.
They may remain with their parents for one to two months.
The Blue Jay occurs from southern Canada through the eastern and central USA south to Florida and
Recently, the range of the Blue Jay has extended northwestwards so that it is now a rare but regularly seen winter visitor along the northern US and
southern Canadian Pacific Coast.
The nuthatches are small passerine birds belonging to the family Sittidae. The nuthatches Characterised by large heads, have long, sturdy, pointed bills and strong toes with long claws, and short tails. Nuthatches have blue-grey backs (violet-blue in some Asian species, which also have red or yellow bills) and white underparts, which are variably tinted with buff, orange, rufous or lilac. The White-breasted Nuthatch upper parts are pale blue grey, and the face and underparts are white. It has a black cap and a chestnut lower belly.
The nuthatches male and female look similar, but may differ in underpart colouration, especially on the rear flanks and under the tail.
Juveniles nuthatches and first-year birds can be almost indistinguishable from adults.
The sizes of nuthatches vary, from the large Giant Nuthatch, at 195 mm (7.75 in) and 36–47 g (1.3–1.6 oz), to the small Brown-headed Nuthatch and the Pygmy Nuthatch, both around 100 mm (4 in) in length and about 10 g (0.36 oz).
Nuthatches nest in a hole in a tree, and the breeding pair may smear insects around the entrance as a deterrent to squirrels. They forage within their territories when breeding, but may join mixed feeding flocks at other times.
Nuthatches advertise their territory using loud, simple songs. Nuthatches are very vocal, using an assortment of whistles,
trills and calls. Their breeding songs tend to be simple and often identical to their contact calls but longer in duration.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch, which coexists with the Black-capped Chickadee throughout much of its range, is able to understand the latter species calls. Many birds recognise the simple alarm calls produced by other species, but the Red-breasted Nuthatch is able to interpret the chickadees’ detailed variations and to respond appropriately.
Nuthatches are non-migratory and live in their habitat year-round, although the North American Red-breasted Nuthatch migrates to warmer regions during the winter.
Nuthatches are omnivorous, eating mostly insects, nuts and seeds. They forage for insects hidden in or under bark by climbing along
tree trunks and branches, sometimes upside-down. Their habit of wedging a large food item in a crevice and then hacking at it with their strong bills gives the Nuthatches its English name.