Bluebird vs Bluejay – What are the differences?

Have you ever seen a bluebird and a bluejay and wondered what the difference was? Or maybe you were just curious about how these two common blue birds are related.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the key differences between bluebirds and bluejays, as well as similarities in behavior and habitat. So, let’s get started!

Bluebird vs Bluejay – Key Differences

Key differences between these two birds; Bluebirds are smaller than bluejays and have a more delicate appearance. They also have lighter plumage with less blue in their feathers. In contrast, bluejays are larger birds with heavier bodies and brighter plumage. When it comes to behavior, bluebirds are shy while bluejays can be quite aggressive.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Coloration

bluebird vs bluejay

The male Eastern Bluebird is striking, with a dark blue coloration on the upper parts of the body and a rusty orange-red coloration on the throat and breast.

The bird’s blue color always depends on the light, and the male often looks plain grayish-brown from afar. While females are more subdued, with a brown coloration on the upper parts of the body, blue wings and tail, and an orange-brown coloration on the breast.

On the other hand, the color pattern of bluejays is quite distinctive. There are different shades of white or light gray below and blue, black and white above.

The head and crest are blue in color with a black necklace running from the crest to the neck and the black eyeliner gives them a brighter look.

The back, tail, and wings are primarily blue with black bars. The legs and bills are black. Females are similar to males but usually have a smaller crest and less color on the neck and back.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Shape

The Eastern Bluebird has a rounder head and plumper body, while the Blue Jay has a more elongated face and slimmer body.

Blue Jay’s tail is more tapered than the Bluebird’s, and its legs are also longer in proportion to its body.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Size and Lifespan

The Bluebirds are typically between sparrows and robbins in size, while bluejays are smaller than crows but larger than robins. 

Bluebird’s Measurement: 16–21cm in length, 28–32g in weight, and 25–32cm in wingspan.

BlueJay’s Measurement: 25-30cm in length, 70-100g in weight, and 34-43cm in wingspan.

The average lifespan of a bluebird is 6 to 10 years, with the oldest known wild individual living 10 years and 5 months.

In comparison, the average lifespan of a bluejay is 7 years old, with the oldest known individual living for 17 years and 6 months. one captive female even lived for 26 years and 3 months.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Behavior

Bluebirds perch upright on wires, branches, posts, and in the open country, while bluejays typically make a lot of noise and are known to fly across open areas silently.

Most notably in fall and winter, bluebirds eat berries which they gulp down while perched on fruiting trees.

Whereas bluejays will stuff food items in their throat pouch to cache elsewhere while eating, they also carry seeds or nuts in their feet and peck them open.

In addition, bluebirds commonly use nest boxes and old woodpecker holes.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Habitat

Bluebird’s native place: Eastern North America and South as far as Nicaragua.

Favorite place: Meadows, open to semi-open areas. 

Nesting place: Natural captives like woodpecker holes, pine or oak tree holes, nest boxes, or artificial refuges.

Bluejay’s native place: Eastern North America. 

Favorite place: Oak, pine wood, suburban gardens, parks, groves except for coniferous forest.

Nesting place: Always builds a new nest in their favorite places.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Diet

Bluebirds mostly eat insects and berries, while bluejays mostly eat insects. However, both birds will eat a wide variety of items depending on what is available.

For instance, both birds will eat spiders, snails, and small lizards or tree frogs if they can find them. In addition, both birds will eat berries or fruits, especially in winter when other food is scarce. 

Bluebirds like to eat:

Fruits- Soften fruits, vine fruits including grapes, and cherries.

Insects- Mealworms, termites, mosquitoes, and moths.

Berries- sumac, holly, dogwood, pokeweed, and hackberries. 

Bluejays like to eat:

Fruits- Acorn, pine, cherries, and grapes.

Insects- Flies, cicadas, crickets, spiders, larvae, grasshoppers, beetles, and worms.

Berries- Blackberries, elderberries, and huckleberries.

To attract these birds to your feeder you can give them other foods like suet, corn, dried mealworm, sunflower seeds, including peanuts. 

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Songs

The song of bluebirds and bluejays may both contain elements of clicks, chucks, and whirrs, but there are some key ways in which they differ.

For one, the bluebird song is generally much shorter than the bluejay sound, lasting only about 2 seconds compared to the bluejay’s 2-minute singing.

The bluejay song is typically lower-pitched and warbling. It is often considered a soft whisper.

Eventually, a bluebird’s song consists of several phrases made up of 1-3 notes. Whereas, the bluejay song is typically a conglomeration of many different sounds.

Though they may share some similarities, the two kinds of birdsong are easily distinguishable.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Calls

Though both the eastern bluebird and the bluejay are types of songbirds, their most common calls could not be more different.

The bluebird’s call is soft and low-pitched, with a querulous tone, while the bluejay is loud and harsh.

The difference in calls serves a different purpose for each bird. The bluebird uses its call to keep in touch with other birds or to signal to nestlings that adults are bringing food, while the bluejay uses its call to scare off predators.

However, they can also make clear whistled notes and gurgling sounds. In addition, they frequently mimic hawks, especially Red-Shouldered Hawks.

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Nesting

Though both the female bluebird and bluejay weave together grasses and pine needles to make their nests, the bluebird takes care to line her nest with fine grasses, horse hair, or turkey feathers for extra comfort.

On the other hand, the bluejay’s nest is more simplistic, often taking the form of an open cup of twigs, grass, and mud with rootlets lining the inside. 

Bluebird vs Bluejay: Eggs Color

The clutch size of both birds is from 2-7 eggs. The color of bluebird eggs is pale blue or, rarely white, while bluejay eggs are bluish or light brown with brownish spots. 

Interesting facts about bluebirds

  • There are three species of bluebirds found in North America: the eastern bluebird, the western bluebird, and the mountain bluebird.
  • Bluebirds generally mate for life and will stay together throughout the breeding season. However, some birds may switch mates during a breeding season to raise a second brood.
  • Bluebirds are very industrious, often raising two or even three broods of young in a single season. The pairs of these birds will either build their second nest on top of the first nest or they will go to an entirely new site to build the second nest.
  • Regardless of where they nest, the male will continue to take care of the recently fledged young while the female begins to re-nest. Young from the first brood will occasionally help raise their siblings in the second brood.
  • In winter, they form large flocks and roost together overnight. It is also known that they can fly at speeds up to 45 miles per hour if necessary.

Interesting facts about a bluejay

  • Blue jays are one of the smartest birds you’ll see visiting your feeder. They are part of the corvid family, which also includes crows and ravens-all known for their high intelligence. They are quick learners, and they have excellent memories.
  • Do you know that bluejays get some help from ants in keeping their feathers clean? They have been observed rubbing ants on their feathers, a habit that helps to remove parasites and prevent dirt buildup. While the exact reason for this behavior is unknown, it is thought that the ants release a chemical that repels parasites.
  • Blue Jays are known for their loud and distinctive calls, which can be heard throughout the year. However, the birds are actually noisier in the fall than at any other time of year. One reason for this is that fall is the breeding season for Blue Jays.
  • The males use their calls to attract mates and to establish territory. In addition, the increased noise level in the fall may also be due to an increase in the number of birds. As winter approaches, many birds migrate south, but Blue Jays are one of the few species that remain in North America year-round. 

Conclusion

The bottom line is that both bluebirds and bluejays are beautiful, unique birds that have a lot to offer. If you’re trying to attract either one of these birds to your backyard, be sure to put out the type of food they prefer and provide adequate nesting sites. And if you’re just looking to enjoy watching these feathered friends, keep an eye out for their telltale signs so you can distinguish between the two.

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