Blue Jay, BraeBurn No. 16, October 4, 2017
Probably our noisiest, brashest, smartest, and most conspicuous bird at BraeBurn is the Blue Jay.  Jays are part of the bird family that includes crows and magpies and are characterized by a distinctive blue, black, and white color pattern with a blue crest at the top of their heads.  It’s easy to identify a Blue Jay feather when you find one. 
 
But what most distinguishes Blue Jays for me is their behavior, including their range of calls.  They tend to travel in groups as if watching out for each other and will sound a loud alarm when a predator bird intrudes.  I have spotted Cooper’s Hawks many times thanks to the loud nasal-sounding squawking of a group of harassing Blue Jays.
 
You’ve heard the expression “wearing your emotions on your sleeve”?  Well, Blue Jays wear their emotions on their head – their crests signal their mood.  When the crest is up, the Blue Jay is excited or angry and when the crest is flat on its head, as in the photo above, it means the bird is feeding or calm.
 
Blue Jays are year-round residents of eastern North America, from the Rockies to the eastern seaboard and from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast.  We are close to the edge of the range for Blue Jays here in Houston – head west and you will be outside their range just past San Antonio.