Jays of Illinois (1 Species to Know)

Jays are intelligent and charismatic birds that are beloved by many birders and feeder watchers. There is only one jay species that can be found in Illinois: The Blue Jay. Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
Identification

Blue Jays are an extremely distinctive species with sky blue on the head, back, wings, and tail. They have a light gray underside and a gray to white face. Blue Jays also have black markings on their wings and tail, as well as a black marking going from the back of the neck to the front of the chest. Blue Jays have a crest on their head that sometimes sticks up quite noticeably, and other times lays down flat. Something interesting about this species is that their markings differ slightly from individual to individual, meaning that each bird is subtly unique looking.

Range

Blue Jays live year round in the Eastern United States and Southeastern Canada. They also inhabit parts of Western Canada. In winter, Blue Jays move south and west with a higher concentration of Blue Jays in the continental United States than in the other seasons and some making it as far west as Washington and Oregon.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Blue Jays primarily eat insects and nuts, but will also eat eggs and nestlings of other birds in addition to small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Where to Find This Bird

Blue Jays live in a wide variety of habitats including forests and backyards. They are especially fond of oak forests as acorns are a staple food item for the species. One of the best ways to see a Blue Jay is to put large nuts such as peanuts out in your yard. Then wait to hear the distinctive calls of Blue Jays that will appear to grab a nut and then quickly fly off.

Summary

Jays are unique birds that can be very fun to see in the wild as their cunning personalities can lead to some entertaining experiences. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding Youtube Channel.

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