Bluebirds and Blue Jays are both stunning birds with vibrant blue plumage that can sometimes lead to confusion, especially for bird enthusiasts just starting their journey into the avian world. We’ll delve into the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between these two beautiful birds, helping you become an expert in distinguishing Bluebirds from Blue Jays. So grab your binoculars, and let’s embark on this birdwatching adventure!
Bluebirds are small, dainty birds with a predominantly blue coloration. The Eastern Bluebird is the most common species found in North America. These birds exhibit a lovely combination of sky-blue feathers on their back, wings, and tail, while their breast is a warm, rusty orange.
Distinctive Features of Bluebirds
Bluebirds are known for their peaceful, melodious calls, often described as soft, warbling tunes. They have a modest beak and are usually around 6 to 8 inches in length, making them relatively small in the bird kingdom.
Bluebirds tend to prefer open spaces like meadows, fields, and gardens. They are cavity-nesting birds, often occupying old tree holes or birdhouses. Providing suitable nesting sites can be a great way to attract Bluebirds to your yard.
The Preferred Bluebird Nesting Locations
Keep an eye out for Bluebirds in open spaces with perches, as they like to have a clear view of their surroundings while foraging for insects.
Blue Jay Basics
Blue Jay Appearance
On the other hand, Blue Jays are larger and more robust than Bluebirds. They sport striking blue plumage on their upper body, but their undersides are white with distinctive black markings. Blue Jays also have a striking blue crest on their head, which can be raised or lowered depending on their mood.
Unique Characteristics of Blue Jays
Blue Jays are known for their raucous calls and vocal versatility. They can mimic the calls of hawks, making other birds scatter in alarm, creating a unique auditory experience in your backyard.
Blue Jay Habitat
Blue Jays are highly adaptable and can be found in various environments, including forests, parks, and suburban neighborhoods. They are opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide range of food, from nuts and seeds to insects and even small vertebrates.
What Attracts Blue Jays
Blue Jays are particularly fond of bird feeders, especially those stocked with sunflower seeds. They also enjoy water sources, so consider adding a birdbath to your yard to attract these striking birds.
How to Tell Them Apart
Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s explore some key differences to help you distinguish between Bluebirds and Blue Jays effortlessly.
One of the most apparent distinctions between these two birds is their size. Bluebirds are smaller and more delicate, while Blue Jays are larger, measuring around 10 to 12 inches in length. This size contrast can be a quick and reliable way to tell them apart.
While both birds share the word “blue” in their names, their shades of blue differ. Bluebirds have a softer, gentler blue on their upper body, resembling the color of the daytime sky. In contrast, Blue Jays have a vibrant, deep blue with white underparts, creating a more striking contrast.
Crest vs. No Crest
Look for the crest on the head – Blue Jays have one, while Bluebirds do not. When a Blue Jay gets excited or agitated, it raises its crest, creating an instant identifier.
Calls and Sounds
Bluebirds emit sweet, musical songs, while Blue Jays are known for their harsh, discordant calls. Blue Jays often mimic other birds and even some mammals, making their vocalizations distinctive.
Bluebirds are typically more peaceful and prefer open spaces, while Blue Jays are more robust and adaptable, often being found in a broader range of habitats.
If you spot a bird near a well-kept birdhouse, it’s likely a Bluebird. Blue Jays are less selective about their nesting sites and can be found in various environments.
Distinguishing Bluebirds from Blue Jays can be both an enjoyable and rewarding pursuit for bird enthusiasts. The variations in size, color, crest, calls, and habitat preferences make it relatively straightforward to tell them apart once you know what to look for. So, if you’re an amateur birder or an experienced birdwatcher, don’t forget to keep these key differences in mind during your next avian adventure, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert in identifying these magnificent birds. Happy birdwatching!