Blue Jay

Photo of blue jay perched on branch
Scientific Name
Cyanocitta cristata
Corvidae (crows and jays) in the order Passeriformes

Blue jays are relatively large songbirds (about the size of a robin) with blue upperparts and whitish underparts. A blue crest on the head can be raised or lowered depending on the bird’s mood. The back is rather lavender, and the wings and tail are sky blue with black bars and white highlights. The strong bill and feet are black; the face is white and is nearly surrounded by a black collar. The voice varies from soft murmurs to loud screams to clear, chime-like whistles.


Length: 11 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).

Where To Find
image of Blue Jay Distribution Map

Blue jays are common statewide in forests, woodlands, parks and suburbs—wherever there are trees.

Blue jays are found wherever there are trees in our state, but although they are present year round, they migrate, so that the birds in any particular area might be replaced each season by others. Sometimes people see bald-headed blue jays—blue jays without feathers on their heads. This condition usually is reported in summer and fall, when they are molting, and new feathers usually grow in soon after.

Acorns, fruits and seeds make up most of the diet, but blue jays will also feed on insects, eggs, young birds and carrion. Blue jays are often found at bird feeders.

Common permanent resident.

Life Cycle

Blue jays usually form lifelong monogamous pairs and breed in spring to the middle of summer. Usually 4–5 eggs are laid in a cup-shaped nest. Eggs hatch in about 16–18 days, and the young fledge about three weeks later. Family groups travel and forage together for the rest of the season, with the young dispersing in wintertime.

Although blue jays can sometimes be aggressive toward other birds at feeding stations, bird watchers still enjoy their bright colors, clever feeding strategies and sassy attitude.

The assertiveness of blue jays extends to their relationship with potential predators, and their screaming and mobbing behaviors serve to protect many bird species against hawks, owls, cats and other predators.

Media Gallery
Similar Species

Where to See Species

The Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area is located in Boone County approximately six miles north of Columbia on Highway 63 and one-half mile east on Peabody road.
Walnut Woods Conservation Area adjoins Stocksdale City Park, which is owned and managed by the city of Liberty. The eastern portion of the area borders Rush Creek.
About Birds in Missouri

About 350 species of birds are likely to be seen in Missouri, though nearly 400 have been recorded within our borders. Most people know a bird when they see one — it has feathers, wings, and a bill. Birds are warm-blooded, and most species can fly. Many migrate hundreds or thousands of miles. Birds lay hard-shelled eggs (often in a nest), and the parents care for the young. Many communicate with songs and calls.