After the spring nesting season ends, and young birds leave the nest and become independent, most mated songbirds go their separate ways. Blue Jays, however, mate for life. The story of their courtship and commitment is one that is sure to fascinate.
Blue Jay courtship groups: A process of elimination
Blue Jay courtship may look a lot like a mini-season of "The Bachelorette," where one by one, contenders get plucked from the flock. It starts with six to 10 males gathering around a female, high in a treetop, in what’s called a courtship group. All eyes are on her, and the following unfolds
- She takes a brief flight around the area.
- All the males follow, making a cacophony of Blue Jay calls.
- When she lands on a different tree, the males also land, clustered around her.
- The males take turns, making high whistling sounds, bobbing their heads up and down.
Then, one of the bachelor birds is “out." Unlike the reality show, this seems to be a self-selecting process where he decides his interest can't outrun the other birds. He assumes a submissive pose by ruffling his feathers and leaves the group.
And then, the Blue Jay courtship group takes another flight, and there’s another round of head-bobs. One by one, the males bow out.
Blue Jays seal the deal with a gift
When the competition is down to the last male, it’s time to seal the deal. The couple retreats for some one-on-one time, where they ruffle their feathers at each other and offer gifts of food or nesting material. It’s not a red rose, but the meaning is the same: I choose you. From that point, the Blue Jays are paired for life.
Blue Jays are highly social birds and live in fluid flocks. But mated pairs will continue to honor their special bond throughout the year with gift offerings. Often it's food, but they also present twigs or bark, perhaps as a reminder of the success they had in raising a brood the spring before!
People who take time to know the Blue Jays find they are lively and entertaining to watch. Setting out peanuts is a sure-fire way to draw them in for an up-close look. Lyric Supreme Wild Bird Mix is a handcrafted blend of shelled peanuts and other nutritious nuggets that supplement wild birds year-round.