Eastern Bluejays

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Back east (I grew up in NC), bluejays were a common and not always appreciated sight around the bird feeders. They tend to be noisy and aggressive toward other birds. Yet they are distinctly beautiful birds and the story of their expansion into Montana is fascinating, and that’s why we’re starting to see them here in the valley.

Eastern bluejays have expanded their range into eastern Montana very recently—the early 2000s, in fact, and even later here west of the Rockies. I’ve only seen them in the yard twice, both times in the fall. This is the first sighting for a couple of years, but I have heard their distinct, nasal screech a few other times without spotting them. Before capturing these photos, I had been hearing them for a couple of days this fall.

Bluejays ays are corvids, in the same family as ravens, magpies and crows. They’re omnivores, preferably feeding on nuts and seeds, but also on insects and even the occasional bird egg when their preferred sources are not available. They will come to feeders no matter what’s in them. Their migratory patterns are not well known and appear to be irregular, migrating in some years and not others. That may account for the irregularity of sightings in the valley, although they are becoming more common here each year.

The fact that these birds are such recent arrivals makes them a treat to see. Let us know if you’ve encountered them by leaving a reply below.

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