What does a Blue Jay look like? Tips to identify them!

What does a Blue Jay look like?

Blue Jays are one of the most common birds in North America. This species can be found all over the continent, with some populations even living in cities and towns. 

Blue Jays have thick, black stout bills, and bright cobalt colored feathers with white underparts, and a white patch on the throat, and forehead. They also have a black necklace, and a black stripe that runs across both eyes.

It also has a distinctive blue crest, and a signature two-tone checkered blue pattern on its back, and tail. The male has bright blue wings with black markings while the female’s wings are brownish-gray with lighter feather edges.

The male is a bit bigger than the female, but on average they measure between 9-12 inches in length with an 13-20 inch wingspan, and weigh between 2.5-3.5 ounces. 

 What does a female Blue Jay look like?

Both sexes are very similar, and hard to tell apart, but you can distinguish the female Blue Jay by their brownish-gray color, and lighter feather edges. They have a white face, throat, and chin bordered by a prominent black necklace. Female birds are also about 10% smaller than males of their species with a wingspan that ranges from 8 to 11 inches.

scrub jay
Image by Veronika Andrews from Pixabay

Woodhouse Scrub-Jay

The Woodhouse Scrub-Jay is a medium-sized, grayish bird with a whitish throat and breast. It has light blue feathers on its head and wings that give it the appearance of wearing a dark blue hoodie. The rest of its body is gray or white with thin streaks of black running through it. Woodhouse scrub jays are common in woodlands, grasslands, chaparral regions, pine forests, deserts; they also inhabit suburban areas such as those found in southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, south Texas, and most of Central America.

California Scrub-Jay
Image by Rick Brown from Pixabay

California Scrub-Jay

The Scrub-Jay is a common sight in California, with large populations found on every major island of the state except for San Clemente Island off the coast of Southern California. The species can be seen as far north as Oregon’s Rogue Valley and along the Pacific Coast from southern British Columbia to central Baja California Sur. It has a rich, bright, cyan-blue color and gray on top with a light gray colored belly, flanks, breast and throat.

Steller's Jay
Image by Diana Roberts from Pixabay

Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jay is a very attractive bird with a grayish black head, cobalt blue body, and white markings above the eye. The Steller’s Jay has a sharp beak that it uses to feed on fruits, seeds and insects. The bill color changes from light brown in winter to dark brown in summer. Steller’s Jays can be found throughout the United States except for Florida, California and Texas; their territory extends into Canada where they are more common than in US.

Florida Scrub-Jay

The Florida Scrub-Jay is a medium-sized bird with a blue head and light gray back. The wings are brownish with white edges. This species has large, dark eyes and pointed bill. They have short legs that make them easy to spot in scrubby areas where they feed on insects, berries, and other food items (such as acorns). Florida Scrub-Jays live year round in the southern United States from Texas through Florida but can be found throughout the eastern US. 

Black-throated Magpie-jay
Image by Simon Marlow from Pixabay

Black-throated Magpie-jay

The Black-throated Magpie-jay is a beautiful, intelligent bird. The bird has a blue upper body with white edges on tail feathers, and white underparts. It’s head, and crest are black with a light blue mask over the eyes and a patch under the eye. Black-throated Magpie-jays are found in Southern Mexico to northern Argentina, but they migrate north into southern Texas during winter months when it will remain until April or May.

White-Breasted Nuthatch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

White-Breasted Nuthatch

The white-breasted nuthatch is a bird that is often mistaken for the blue jay, because of its similarities in color. This bird has a black cap and a black and white stripe through the eye. The underparts are white with some rust-colored hues. It also has gray wings with brown bars on the top of them. Nuthatches live in coniferous forests or other woods, foraging among trees looking for insects or larvae to eat.

Gray bird that looks like a Blue Jay?

Gray Jay
Image by diapicard from Pixabay

For years, Gray Jays have been a part of the ecosystem in North America.  Canada Gray Jays are a rare sight to see in the wild. They live in Canada, but rarely venture south of the border and into United States territory except when migrating. For that reason, it’s hard for most people to know what they look like or how often they show up on these shores. 

Gray Jays look like the Blue jay except they are dark gray on top, and light gray underneath, and have a black imperfect hood on the back of the head. The length is about 10-13″ inches with a  wingspan of 45 cm (18 in), and a weight of 65 to 70 g (2.3 to 2.5 oz). Gray Jays are one of the few forest-dwelling birds in Canada that migrate south to escape the winter.

In late summer, Gray Jays gather in groups and fly as far south as they can go before the snow starts falling. They usually end up migrating to Florida or Georgia where they stay until it is time for them to return north again in March. 

These birds live high up in the trees and are not often seen on the ground. They eat nuts, berries, seeds, eggs and small mammals that they find while foraging. The gray jays don’t have many predators because their camouflage allows them to blend into their surroundings so well that it is hard to see them at all!

In addition to this amazing ability, these birds are smart.  Their preferred habitat is coniferous forests, which makes them seem out of place when they visit suburban yards during winter months or nest in a big city park near people’s homes. However, this bird’s presence brings an unlikely smile to our faces!