What to feed a baby scrub jay

California Scrub-Jay | Audubon Field Guide

California Scrub-Jay | Audubon Field Guide

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Adult. Photo: Jerry McFarland/ Flickr (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Conservation status Healthy population overall, and increasing in recent years in northern part of range.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Oak woodland, oak scrub, riverside woods, and foothill forests of pinyon pine. Often very common in well-wooded suburbs and parks.

This is the "blue jay" of parks, neighborhoods, and riverside woods near the Pacific Coast. Pairs of California Scrub-Jays are often seen swooping across clearings, giving harsh calls, with their long tails flopping in flight. They readily come to backyard bird feeders. Until recently, this jay was considered part of the same species as the Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay; the two were officially "split" in July 2016.

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Feeding Behavior

Forages on the ground and in trees, singly or in family units during breeding season, sometimes in flocks at other seasons. Often harvests acorns and buries them, perhaps to retrieve them later.


3-5, sometimes 2-7. Usually light green, spotted with olive or brown; sometimes paler gray or green with large reddish-brown spots. Incubation is by female, about 17-18 days. Male sometimes feeds female during incubation.


Fed by both parents. Young leave the nest about 18-22 days after hatching, but are tended to and fed by the adults for at least another month. Typically one brood per year, occasionally two.


Omnivorous. Diet varies with season. Eats a wide variety of insects, especially in summer, as well as a few spiders and snails. Moth caterpillars make up a major percentage of the items fed to the young. Winter diet may be mostly acorns and other seeds, nuts, and berries. Also eats some rodents, eggs and young of other birds, and small reptiles and amphibians.


Unlike the Florida Scrub-Jay and Mexican Jay, this species breeds in isolated pairs, not cooperative flocks. Pairs typically stay together all year on their permanent territory. Nest site is in a shrub or tree, usually fairly low, 5-15’ above the ground, but sometimes higher. Nest (built by both sexes) is a well-built, thick-walled cup of twigs and grass, lined with rootlets and sometimes with animal hair.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds


Mostly a permanent resident. May disperse some distance in winter, especially in dry years when the oaks produce poor acorn crops.

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Mostly a permanent resident. May disperse some distance in winter, especially in dry years when the oaks produce poor acorn crops.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

Call is loud, throaty jayy? or jree? In flight, a long series of check-check-check notes.

How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the California Scrub-Jay

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate threats facing the California Scrub-Jay

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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How to Feed Wild Baby Blue Jays

By Laura Wallace Henderson | Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Blue jay food

  • Fresh berries

  • Raw nuts

  • Canned pet food

  • Eye dropper

  • Plastic drinking straw

Blue jays are brightly colored, blue birds known for their unusual color. Blue jays are commonly found in the central and eastern United States and in southern Canada. Blue jays like to live in clearings, near wooded areas and buildings. Baby blue jays normally stay with their parents for their first two months of life. They are often able to start finding their own food when they are just a few weeks of age. Very young blue jays require assistance when abandoned by their parents. You may need to assist a baby blue jay by feeding him until he is old enough to feed himself.

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Check with your local farm supply store for commercial blue jay food. Some pet stores also carry prepared blue jay food. Purchase a small quantity of this ready-made food to try on your new baby bird. Soften this food with water for feeding to immature birds. If you cannot find packaged blue jay food, make your own blend from scratch.

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Select a variety of fresh food for preparing your own blend of baby blue jay food. These birds are omnivorous, meaning they consume food from plant and meat sources. Select raw, unsalted nuts and soft grains for your rescued baby bird. Berries should be fresh or frozen, not canned. Purchase produce that has not been subject to chemical processing. Thoroughly wash all fresh produce. Use canned cat or dog food as an animal protein source for your baby blue jay.

i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Select an object shaped like the beak of a mother blue jay. A pointed eye dropper works for this purpose. You can also trim the tip of a plastic drinking straw into a slight point to use to feed the baby bird. Grind your ingredients into a smooth gruel. Add a little water to produce a soft consistency. Place a small amount on the tip of your straw or dropper. Baby birds open their mouths very widely when it is time to eat. Gently and quickly press the food to the back of the baby’s open mouth. Do not press down the throat. Allow the baby blue jay sufficient time to swallow the food.

  • Be prepared to feed the baby bird often. Depending on his age, he may need to eat every two to three hours.


  • University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology
  • National Park Service
  • Orphaned and Injured Birds – The Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Laura Wallace Henderson, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She has served as the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." She continues to empower and encourage women everywhere by promoting health, career growth and business management skills.

bird description, behavioral features, species and habitat (range)

Jay is a bird of the corvid family with bright plumage. It is found in Europe, North Africa, Asia, the Caucasus. In the northern latitudes, the jay is a migratory bird, in warm places it is a settled bird. Prefers to settle in forests and woodlands.

In the article we will consider what types of jays are, the features of their lifestyle, reproduction and nesting.

What a common jay looks like

Features and lifestyle

Jays attract the eye with beautiful bright plumage. These birds can very skillfully imitate different sounds. Jay body length is about 45 cm, weight - no more than 200 g. The beak is short and sharp, legs are long, fingers have tenacious claws. The plumage deserves special attention:

  • there is a small motley tuft on the head, a gray-white ornament on the forehead;
  • neck, occiput, belly beige-pink with gradation of shades;
  • in the central part under the beak, the throat is white; nine0012
  • black stripes on the sides of the beak;
  • The middle of the wings is covered with blue-blue stripes, and their edges are black.

In chicks, the plumage color is not as bright as in adult birds. Males differ from females only in larger sizes. In flight, the jay looks especially beautiful, exposing all plumage to the public. Descending to the ground, she moves in jumps.

INTERESTING FACT. The color of the iris in jays varies with age. In chicks it is dark brown, in adults it is light blue. nine0003

The jay is diurnal, but it is difficult to see them in nature. Wild birds are quite shy and always try to hide when they hear any sounds and rustles. Often they make sharp cries, notifying relatives of the approach of danger. The exception is birds living in the city. They get used to people and make it possible to get closer to a distance of 4-5 meters.

Jays do not have a beautiful voice. Basically, they make whistles, clicks, crackles, but they easily repeat the sounds of other birds or animals. If they live in a village, they can easily imitate the meow of a cat, the voice of a goat or a sheep, the creak of a door, the knock of an ax. Birds that are kept in captivity are able to repeat words after a person. Interestingly, they imitate not only sounds, but also intonations. nine0003

See how a jay imitates a cat's meow:

Jays love to live in the canopy of trees, they rarely come down to the ground or fly in open areas. Usually they live in pairs, but with the onset of cold weather they gather in groups of up to 30 pieces. So they are saved from the cold.

Two jays approaching each other

Natural enemies

Birds of prey and some animals prey on jays. Man negatively affects the habitat of birds. After visiting a field sprayed with pesticides or other poisonous substances, birds often die from poisoning. In order to preserve the harvest of grapes, apples, pears and other fruits, people set up various traps for birds into which jays fall. nine0003

What they eat

The basis of the diet is food of plant origin, such as nuts, acorns, raspberries, mountain ash, etc. Jays often host in the fields where they find wheat, rye, barley, sunflower, and oats. At the end of spring and before the onset of cold weather, they consume animal food: May beetles, bronze beetles, silkworm caterpillars. Insects are necessarily included in the menu of chicks. With a lack of food, predatory instincts can manifest in a jay - it can kill a mouse, lizard, frog or small bird. nine0003

With the onset of cold weather, jays stock up. They carry food in their beaks and hide it under the bark of a tree, in dry grass or leaves. Stocks for the winter by weight can be 3-4 kg. Often, birds forget about winter supplies, and with the onset of spring, the seeds germinate. Thus, they contribute to the spread of plants and trees over long distances.

In winter, in search of a food base, jays move closer to human habitation. Then they can often be seen in villages, suburbs and city parks. nine0003

Jay species

There are more than 40 species of these birds in the world. However, ornithologists argue that there may be unexplored species living in places inaccessible to humans. The most common are the following species:

  1. Common jay - lives in the forests of Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Among other species, it is considered the largest.
  2. Decorated jay - distinguished by dark purple head and wings, brown back and belly. They are only distributed in Japan. nine0012
  3. Himalayan jay - lives in the Himalayas. The feather color is very diverse: the head is black and resembles a crow, the color of the body and wings is similar to the common jay, but the plumage on the back has a gray tint.
  4. Saxaul jay lives in thickets of bushes and steppes of Mongolia. In appearance, it resembles a small crow. It is known that this bird prefers to run or jump, but it flies poorly.
  5. Crested jay has a long crest and grey-brown plumage. There is a black and white patch on the neck. Lives in Thailand and Malaysia. Unlike other species, it is not afraid of people. Young birds are distinguished by a striped variegated color, in the process of growing up, the plumage changes to black. nine0012
  6. American blue jay lives in mixed and pine forests of central America. The main color of its plumage is blue-blue, the abdomen and feathers around the eyes are white. The edges of the wings and tail are white.
  7. Black-headed jay - a bird that lives in Mexican forests. The structure of the tail is very similar to the magpie. The bird has a black crest that curls up when excited. The plumage of the back, neck and tail is blue, the belly is white. The voice of these birds resembles the cry of parrots. nine0012
  8. Bush Blue Jay - This species lives in the forested areas of Florida. The head, wings and back have a blue plumage, from below - light gray. This species is rare and listed in the Red Book.
  9. The Yucatan jay is a rare species, their representatives are very afraid of people, so it is difficult to see them. They live in the forests of North America in the ruins of old buildings. The head and body are covered with black plumage, the wings and tail are bright blue.
  10. The Mockingjay is a species of bird created by crossing female Mockingjays and male Talking Jays. nine0012

Unfortunately, some species are in decline. This is due to thoughtless human activity, especially deforestation - the main habitat of these beautiful birds.

Red Book blue jay in the wild

Reproduction and care of chicks

Jays reach sexual maturity already in the first year of life. Birds move to an active search for a partner in early spring, pairs create for life. Males try to attract females by flying over the crowns of trees and arranging real concerts. Their song includes sounds made by other birds, as well as imitations of forest noise. nine0003

Jay nest

A new pair starts nest building in April. It can be used multiple times by the same parents. Construction takes at least a week. The nest, about 20 cm in diameter, is cup-shaped and 8-10 cm deep. Tree branches serve as its base, inside the surface is covered with hay, moss and feathers. The clutch usually contains 5-7 dark green eggs. Sometimes it happens that a marten or a ferret ruins the nest. If this happened before summer, the female may lay her eggs again. Incubation is done by both parents in turn. nine0003

Description and feeding of chicks

Chicks hatch in 2.5-3 weeks. They are very gluttonous and can take food from each other. With a lack of insects, some of the babies die. If there is enough food supply, then after 3 weeks the chicks leave the nest. However, parents still feed and take care of them until the beginning of autumn.

Interesting facts about jays

Jays sometimes show remarkable intelligence and ingenuity. Thanks to their sharp mind and ingenuity, they survive in difficult conditions. Here are some interesting facts about the jay:

  1. To make a pantry with supplies, these birds can ruin someone else's workpiece. Jays, having spied on relatives or other birds, steal food from them and hide them in their secret places. With a large accumulation of jays, you can see how a kind of competition takes place in the search for and transfer of someone else's food. They do not disdain pantries of squirrels, chipmunks and other animals. American jays steal acorns from woodpeckers. They are very cautious, and before hiding the prey they look around, fly from place to place, and, making sure that no one is watching them, they hide supplies. nine0012
  2. Jays get rid of parasites in an interesting way. They find an anthill and walk on it or sit on top. Ants spray acid on the bird, which kills the parasites that have appeared on the feathers.
  3. In the wild, jays live for about 7 years. In favorable climatic conditions and with a good food supply, some birds lived up to 16 years. It is known that a wild jay chick can be tamed. With proper care in captivity, birds can live up to 20 years.
Jay stores acorns for the winter

Keeping a jay at home

Jays and other corvids are very intelligent and sociable, so they are often kept as pets. The omnivorous nature of these birds makes it easier for the owner to find food. It is enough to feed the bird with what is in the refrigerator. But to maintain good health, the jay needs a varied menu.

Flying feathers and droppings are difficult to keep, so it is better to settle the bird in a spacious aviary, and not in a cage. It should be equipped with a large branch with many knots or several perches. Shoots of living trees are not suitable for this purpose; it is better to choose a long-fallen dry tree. An excellent option would be strong oak branches. The floor of the aviary must be covered with an easily washable material, for example, linoleum. Sawdust is poured on top or paper is spread. nine0003

The desire to have a jay must be well thought out so that later it does not become a burden. You should not buy a bird for a child, as the interests of children change quickly.

You need to buy a young bird - they are quickly tamed and get used to the owner. An adult wild bird cannot be domesticated. Even if you take home a tamed jay from another owner, the likelihood that it will get used to you is not great. In captivity, birds are kept alone, otherwise two or more individuals will fight among themselves and cripple each other. nine0003

What to feed

Jays and other birds of the corvid family can be fed with boiled minced meat, small pieces of meat, cottage cheese, eggs, various cereals, grated vegetables, fruits, nuts. Be sure to add minerals, the bird needs them, especially in the process of molting. It is advisable to give minerals in the form of a special "bird stone", which is sold in almost any pet store. You can offer your pet whole raw eggs. The bird will drink the internal contents, and eat the shell as mineral feed. nine0003

The cage or aviary must have clean water in a drinking bowl and separately in a bathing container. To take baths, pour water into a wide tray with high sides or a basin.

Jay with food in the aviary


To keep the bird healthy, you need to let it fly. You can do this in the apartment, but it is better - in the yard under the supervision of the owner. In this case, care should be taken, as a trusting bird can suffer at the hands of other people. nine0003

INTERESTING FACT. Jays are good at distinguishing familiar people from strangers. They well distinguish the voice of the owner and fly to his call.

Toys and entertainment

Jays are fidgety, so they should be given some toys. Like most members of the corvid family, jays are very fond of shiny things. You can put foil, coins, a ball, a box with counting sticks and so on in a cage. If you do not provide them with entertainment, they will find something to play on their own, for example, they will pull the wallpaper, tear the leaves of indoor plants, peck at watches and jewelry. nine0003

To teach a jay human speech, you need to communicate with it regularly. You can call her by name, pronounce simple phrases, and the result will not be long in coming. But it is important to remember that only a tame jay can be taught to speak. Adult birds that were taken home rarely repeat words after a person.

Where to buy a jay

It is better to buy a jay at the Bird Market, but these birds are not always on sale. The common jay is not a rare species, so you can take a young individual from the nest. But this must be done with the utmost care. You can not take very small chicks - it will be very difficult to feed them. A grown-up baby, who is about to leave the nest, will do. Also, you can not come close to the chicks when the parents are nearby. You should wait until they fly away and take one chick. You need to come to the nesting place with a helmet on your head to protect yourself from a possible attack by the chick's parents. After the removal of the young jay, it is imperative to check whether the adult birds have returned to the rest of the chicks. nine0003

If you have picked up an adult diseased jay, you need to carefully examine it. If a bird cannot fly because of broken feathers, break them off so that new ones grow faster in this place. In the presence of complex injuries, it is necessary to take it to the veterinarian. If, after recovery, the bird can walk and fly, it is better to release it to freedom. There are times when a wounded jay got used to the owner and did not want to fly away from him. Then she becomes a true friend for many years. If, after the injuries received, the bird can no longer lead its usual way of life, it must not be released. In this case, you can keep it at home or give it to good hands. nine0003

Video about a bird

We offer you to watch a video about interesting facts from the life of jays.

Songjay - Do you know what…

Guys! Employees of the department "World of Childhood" of the Central City Children's Library named after A.P. Gaidar have prepared interesting information for you on the national holiday Day of the Jay, which is celebrated on December 11th. The jay is a bird from the corvid family. The name comes from the ancient Russian "soy", which means "shine". So the bird was most likely named because of the bright, memorable plumage. nine0003

The jay is called the mockingbird because of its ability to imitate the voices of humans and animals. Moreover, the jay boasts outstanding vocal abilities. Most often, the voice of a jay sounds in the form of a screech and cod, sometimes it is a nasal cry. The jay is also called the "forest guard" because it warns other birds and animals with a sharp cry about the appearance of danger. Listen to the jay sing.

Another interesting point testifies to the intelligence of jays: to get rid of parasites, jays use ants. They stir up anthills and sit on them, spreading their feathers. Ants attack the bird, and thus formic acid acts on unwanted residents. There is even a special term for this process - antling. nine0003

Guys! Listen to the story of I. Sokolov-Mikitov "Jays".

The diet of these birds mainly consists of food objects of plant origin. The favorite delicacy of jays is an acorn. Jays can carry up to 6-7 acorns in their crops and in their beaks at a time, and stocks for the winter, carefully folded into bird pantries, can weigh up to 6-8 kg and amount to up to 15,000 acorns and nuts. Sometimes jays forget about part of their reserves, and then trees sprout from them. These birds are often found on farmland, where they find seeds of wheat, oats, sunflowers, and in vegetable gardens they steal carrots, potatoes and even beets! And, of course, jays feed on various pests: May beetles, silkworm caterpillars, weevils. nine0003

We offer you to watch the series of the cartoon "Papers" about the jay Aglaya and her chicks. And then, together with their parents, make this character out of paper.
Jays don't like to fly. They prefer long flights to move between trees, fly from branch to branch.

Jays can be kept in captivity, but you need to tame a small chick. You can keep only one bird, in a large spacious cage and take regular walks every 4 hours. Jays love spraying with warm water, but they are completely undemanding to food. nine0003

Guys! Come with your parents to children's libraries and learn interesting facts about different birds from books.


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