Blue jays are a familiar sight at bird feeders and on forest floors across the United States. They are omnivorous but are often seen raiding nests of other birds to steal eggs and young. Their loud, boisterous calls and mimicry of hawk cries are a distinctive feature of the forest landscape. Their acorns and other seeds are important for the growth of forests. They can even cache food for later.
I have watched a pair of Blue Jays carefully select twigs to build their nest. The male would bring the female new twigs and then she would work to incorporate them into the nest. Once the outer structure of the nest was complete, the pair engaged in a quick stomping dance that helped solidify its cup shape. Then the female began egg laying. Incubation lasts 17 to 18 days.
Blue jays are resident all year in the eastern half of the U.S., and in the southern parts of 10 Canadian provinces. But populations in the extreme north of the country are migratory, moving south to areas with abundant food supplies and milder climates. Most blue jays that remain in their territories during the winter will seek roosting spots deep in evergreen foliage, as this offers double protection from predators and the elements. When daylight begins to fade, many of these birds huddle together for warmth in a cluster. Some will flutter their wings in a pattern called thermal conduction to maximize body heat.