All About Jays - Jay Bird Facts & Information

About Jays

Jay Bird

Jays (garrulus glandarius) are a member of the crow family (Corvidae) and they are the most colourful and striking members. These shy woodland birds may not be seen often, however, they have a loud and raucous call that can be heard well before the bird is seen. 

With a diverse diet ranging from insects to fruits, they display remarkable problem solving skills and exhibit caching behaviour, hiding food in numerous locations for later retrieval. 

Their vocalisations are varied and loud, used for communication, territory defence, and social interactions. Jays are adept flyers, often seen darting through trees with agility. 

Are Jays rare?

No, Jay birds are not rare. They are widespread across the UK. In fact, the only place in the UK where they are not found is Northern Scotland. 

The Jay is protected under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act.

How big is a Jay?

The Eurasian Jay bird weighs around 140 to 190 grams and is about 35cm from their tail to their beak with a wingspan of 55cm. 

What does a Jay look like?

Jay Bird

Depending on the species of the Jay bird, the colouring of the Jay bird can differ - but in general they all have similar features. 

Their feathers are a combination of greyish pink with a black tail and white rump, and an incredible blue colour that really makes them stand out. 

Many Jay species have patterns on their bodies including bold black and white markings. 

Both male and female jays look similar, with young birds having a darker red plumage and bolder black barring on the wing patch.

How many types of Jay birds are there?

There are about 35 - 40 species of the Jay bird and they each look a little bit different. From the Blue Jay to the Green Jay, there are many different types of this medium sized bird. 

Jay habitats

Jays live in woodland habitat where there is scattered trees - typically areas like orchard or parks as they prefer to live in spaces with plenty of cover. If they find a large gardens with plenty of mature trees, they will also settle there so they can also be found in more urban areas.

If there is a mature woodland with Oak trees, you'll probably find Jay birds here as acorns are one of their favourite foods.

Jay Lifespan

In the wild, the lifespan of Jays is around four years on average. Although amazingly, there are records of some of the birds living up to 18 years in the wild!

Jay Breeding

For Jays, the breeding season begins in April. They'll find a mate with vocalisations, displays of plumage and behaviours to show their suitability - breeding Jays mate for life.

The male and female Jays will then build their nest together. Their messy nests are built in trees, such as oak trees, and shrubs, from twigs, roots and hair.

The female Jay will lat four to five eggs that are light blue with brown speckles - the male and females will take turns to incubate the eggs for are 16 days. Once they are hatched, the baby Jays need a lot of care and attention, so the parent Jays take turns in feeding the chicks.

Compared to other birds, Jays take quite a long time to fledge, not leaving the nest until about 20 days after hatching and the young birds can still be quite dependent on the parents for a period of time.

Jay Nest Boxes

While Jays are known to readily adapt to various habitats and nesting sites, including natural tree cavities, they are not typically known to use traditional nest boxes like some other bird species such as Bluebirds or Chickadees.

What do Jays eat?

A Jay's diet mainly consists of acorns, nuts, seeds and insects - especially caterpillars.

Setting Jay's apart from other common garden birds is a behaviour they exhibit with acorns. These birds are known for hoarding and burying acorns for the winter period for later consumption.

It is thought that Jays can hoard and retrieve several thousand acorns over winter!

Jay Predators

The Jays main predators are birds of prey such as hawks, owls, and falcons. They hunt jays both in flight and while they are perched.

Small mammals are also predators, like domestic cats, foxes and larger mammals may hunt jays, particularly when they are nesting or roosting.

How to attract Jays into your garden

Even thought Jays are a shy bird who prefer plenty of cover, there are many ways to try to introduce and attract them into your garden - one guaranteed way to get them hanging out in your gardens is to plant a whole load of Oak trees!

Have plenty of feeders filled with the Jays favourite foods in your garden. This can be a seed mix, mealworms or they really love peanuts. If you can, place the feeder or bird table in an area with lots of cover - you'll be making this feeding area more attractive to the Jay.

Birds need water! Offering a constant supply of water with a bird bath give the Jays a place to drink and also keep their stunning feathers looking top tip!

Five facts about Jays

  1. Some species of jays, such as the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), are adept mimics. They can mimic the calls of other bird species and even some non-bird sounds, such as human-made noises or the calls of other animals. This mimicry can be quite entertaining to observe.

  2. Jays are known for their playful antics. They may engage in activities such as hanging upside down from branches, chasing each other in flight, or playing with objects they find in their environment. This playful behaviour is not only entertaining but also serves to help develop their physical and cognitive skills.

  3. Jays have an impressive ability to remember where they have hidden food caches. They can hide thousands of food items in various locations and recall these hiding spots even months later. This behaviour helps them survive during times of scarcity, as they can retrieve stored food when needed.

  4. Many Jay species have prominent crests on their heads, which they can raise or lower depending on their mood or level of alertness. The crest serves both a functional and aesthetic purpose, helping to communicate with other birds and adding to their striking appearance.

  5. Jays exhibit high levels of intelligence and problem-solving skills. They have been observed using tools, such as sticks or twigs, to extract food from crevices or manipulate objects. Their ability to adapt to changing environments and solve complex problems makes them fascinating subjects for scientific study.