Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata

Phonetic Description of Songs:
jeer jeer
Squeaky-gate call
mimics hawks

What do we know about blue jay song?

•Non-song vocalizations
•Vast repertoire of calls (Kroodsma 2005)
–Extensive gradation (Smith et al. 2020)
–Many calls in multiple contexts
–Multiple and unique renditions of many calls (Smith et al. 2020)
• Mimic
•Possible regional dialects involving call-matching among neighbors •Audibility threshold may be higher than humans (Smith et al. 2020)

How and when is call acquired?

•Full vocal repertoire achieved within 6 mo (Smith et al. 2020)
•Learn most calls
•Nestlings raised in isolation to about 8 months (Cohen 1977b)
–Failed to develop Squeaky-Gate Call
–Other calls, although clearly identifiable, differed markedly from normal calls
•Probably capable of learning new calls and modifying old ones throughout life
•Nestlings raised in captivity beginning at 8 –12 days learn to recognize calls of nestmates
•In isolation when exposed to recorded calls of adult jays, developed adult calls (Cohen 1977b)
Mated pairs match call types (Cohen 1877b)

How can we facilitate learning?

•Raise and release several together
• House outdoors as soon as possible
• Play recordings of calls as it has been shown they learn from recording song
• Play all call types especially squeaky gate call as it has been shown it isn’t developed if young not exposed


Cohen, S.M. (1977). Blue Jay Vocal Behavior. PhD thesis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. [I haven’t found this, Kroodsma says not published]

Kroodsma, Donald.2005. The Singing Life of Birds: 179-191.

Smith, K. G., K. A. Tarvin, and G. E. Woolfenden (2020). Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.