Feb 26 2012

Have You Seen Any Blue Jays Lately?

Published by at 7:30 am under Migration,Songbirds

When volunteers compared notes after the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count on 1 January 2012, someone remarked that they hadn’t seen many blue jays this winter.  Everyone at the Pittsburgh CBC Dinner nodded.

This morning I remembered that remark and looked through my bird observations to see how often I’ve recorded blue jays this winter.

Amazingly I’ve seen them only four times since November 1:  on November 6 and 13 and December 4 and 11.  Three of those observations were at the same spot at Moraine State Park and were perhaps the same individual bird.  Meanwhile, I have not seen a blue jay in Pittsburgh for at least four months.

If the blue jays aren’t here, where are they?

Have you seen any blue jays lately?

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UPDATES & BLUE JAY ABUNDANCE MAPS

  • Click here for an eBird map of blue jay abundance 2009-2014 in Pennsylvania.  On an annual basis blue jay abundance peaks in Pennsylvania in September and falls to its lowest point in late February.  Click on the [Change Location] button to choose your own state or province.
  • March 2012:  I mapped readers’ sightings on The Blue Jay Report here.
  • June 2013:  New comments have come in from folks who are seeing far fewer blue jays than they expect.  I asked 1,200 observers in Pennsylvania (via PABIRDS) if they were seeing fewer blue jays.  Everyone said they were seeing plenty of blue jays but one person commented that 17-year cicadas seemed to depress blue jay abundance in advance of the cicada emergence.  If you have fewer blue jays, are you also in a cicada area?
  • September 2014:  Lots of blue jays moving south through Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine when I was there in early September.  Lots of blue jays in the Pittsburgh area.

 

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

158 responses so far

158 Responses to “Have You Seen Any Blue Jays Lately?”

  1. Kate St. Johnon 01 Jul 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Linda, Scarlet tanagers breed all the way up to Canada so they are normal in New York state. However they like wooded areas so they are not in dense cities nor in open farmland. It is always surprising to see one in a city … usually only happens during migration in spring & fall.
    The absence of blue jays may be habitat related too. I’ve found them in suburbs and in thin woodlands, not in dense city settings.

  2. linda burkeon 02 Jul 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you, Kate, for the info. That was the only sighting I’ve ever had of that beautiful bird. I guess we have always lived in urbanized areas and the only birds to be seen were pigeons and sparrows. And here in the busier suburbs, only crows. Perhaps they scare off everything else. Now that we go to Florida in the winter, I am learning about the residents on our golf course.

  3. dottieon 05 Jul 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I usually have numerous blue jays for peanuts and they’ll even hawk at me if the dish is empty.
    This year I haven’t seen nor heard by jays, what I’ve been noticing is the black birds are still here. They are usually long gone by now. What’s going on?

  4. Kate St. Johnon 06 Jul 2014 at 7:45 am

    Dottie, I don’t know where you live but it could be that the jays are still nesting. The grackles (my guess at the black birds you mention) have finished nesting and are traveling in big flocks right now.

  5. Kathy Tayloron 29 Jul 2014 at 12:35 am

    I too have wondered why I haven’t seen any Blue Jays. I live in the St. Louis, Missouri area. I used to see them all the time, but it recently occurred to me that I hadn’t seen ANY in the past year or so. It’s concerned me enough to Google this to see if anyone else had noticed a decline in their numbers.

  6. mike olaughon 06 Aug 2014 at 7:49 am

    The reason I found this blog was because i was trying to find out what happened to the Blue Jays. We hated them as kids because of their raucus calls and they seemed to drive away all the competition. But I haven’t seen one in years, maybe a decade, maybe more. We have a diverse tree population and now have many birds we never saw back in the 50’s. We have fully mature Broad Hawks and Red Tails and a couple of smaller raptors I have not identified. Where we used to have only Common Sparrows, Robins and Blue Jays we now have the Sparrows, a variety of them, Finches of several types and various Wrens, (sorry, my identification is weak but I can still see the differences enough to note a different bird) This year we have a Western Goldfinch or another bird that looks just like it with out the red cap. We also have Turkeys abundant enough for them to be looking for nesting in the neighbors yard. The hen we saw this year rested in their giant White Pine but there were so many watchers gathering in my back yard for a look that I think we scared her off. There seem to be fewer Robins but that may be because there are so many other birds now. I don’t mention the Crows only because they are ubiquitous no matter the conditions. We are near a cemetery and they have lived there for a century. I learned when I first moved here 20 years ago to leave them alone. They ganged up on my car and dropped on it enmasse for a whole season. (I was trying to get them to stop roosting across the alley.) They are harassed now on occasion by one of the smaller Raptors that has moved in to hunt baby rabbits, our newest pestilence in Minneapolis. But not one Blue Jay. Curious. Any thoughts?

  7. Kate St. Johnon 06 Aug 2014 at 8:10 am

    Interesting observations, Mike Olaugh. I checked eBird for sightings of blue jays and see that they are most numerous at the southwest lakes (Lake Calhoun & other lakes north & south of it) and the Mississippi valley. Here’s the link that shows where and when they’ve been seen: http://bit.ly/1obTBjn Their absence seems to be localized.

  8. Mike Olaughon 09 Aug 2014 at 11:48 am

    Thanks Kate. It looks like they are all around me. It is possible that my old man memory has populated the past with more Jays than actually were there. I did forget to mention the Cardinals that do dominate the morning here. I always thought the two were close relatives but, somehow, Cardinals are good and Jays are bad.

    Now there is a Visitation thought !!

  9. Karen Murphyon 11 Aug 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Hi all,
    I live just south of Atlanta, Ga. I use to have Blue Jays in my yard and enjoyed their color. I have not seen any in my area for the past two to three years if not longer? Where have they all gone?

  10. Kate St. Johnon 11 Aug 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Karen, according to eBird there are indeed fewer blue jays south of Atlanta than there are in the northeast quadrant. See the eBird link here: http://bit.ly/1sPglWT This is pretty amazing but it might be explained by habitat. Blue jays are very fond of acorns so I’m wondering this: Are there lots of oaks in the northeast area of metro Atlanta? Are there fewer oaks where you live — fewer now than some years ago?

  11. Philon 19 Aug 2014 at 12:01 pm

    It’s now August 19,2014 This past year I’ve seen only 5 blue jays here in North Jersey, Sussex county. I posted back in 2013 that I had only 2. Not a great comeback, but a slight rise in populace. It seems that the Blue Jay is the only bird lacking in quantity. I put up a Hummingbird feeder this year and to my surprise I have about five coming to feed the only problem is the yellow jackets seem to control the feeder and they chase the birds away. I’m hoping for more Blue Jays this winter, I’ll keep posting any increase results.

  12. Kate St. Johnon 19 Aug 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Phil, thanks for the news. Good luck!

  13. Rowenaon 14 Sep 2014 at 10:28 am

    I live in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and I have not see a Blue Jay this year, and noticed in 2013 and 2012 there were hardly any. I am keeping a look out but I think the West Nile disease really affected them. I have feeders up but only have Finches, Sparrows and Cardinals, and one Nuthatch. 3 Humming Birds who are always chasing each other. I guess they guard their territory.
    I will be interested to see if any come this winter, use to get loads.

  14. Alon 21 Sep 2014 at 10:29 am

    I found this website when I realized I hadn’t seen hardly any blue jays in the last couple of years. I’m in Minneapolis and growing up is see at least a couple everyday without even trying. I wonder why?

  15. Mike Hagueon 24 Sep 2014 at 4:40 pm

    No blue jays this summer in the hills of NH, first time I can remember

  16. Liz Brackenon 26 Sep 2014 at 7:33 pm

    We’ve had Blue Jays all summer, every day, here in suburban Atlanta but have seen none in the past week. one day they were here; then they weren’t.

  17. Tammieon 15 Nov 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I live in Louisiana and usually have lots of blue jays and red birds but for some reason I have not seen but 1 red bird. I have noticed a change of all bird sightings now for about 3 months. Where are all the birds? The only birds I see are the hawks flying over. What’s going on?

  18. Kimon 20 Nov 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the corn/grain they eat – most of which is now Monsanto BT, I believe. The ill effects are well-documented. No health problems with my pets now that they’re off corn, soy. I miss seeing blue jays here in north Georgia!

  19. Kate St. Johnon 20 Nov 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Kim, the BT corn would affect us but I don’t think blue jays eat much corn/grain. Their favorite foods are acorns and nuts. I do know they are scarce where there aren’t nut trees.

  20. Kimon 21 Nov 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks, Kate. Maybe my problem is the exploding chipmunk and flying squirrel numbers in my little piece of the woods. The flying squirrels have filled two empty bird houses to the brim with acorns!

  21. David Wozniakon 29 Nov 2014 at 10:40 am

    I have seen nearly NO birds around my house for days. Normally there are hundreds. I recently put out my winter feeders which have gone untouched. This is very earie to say the least!
    Is anyone else experiencing anything like this?
    I’m in SE Indiana out in the country where birds are normally plentiful and I usually have 10-30 birds around the feeder.

  22. Beaon 16 Dec 2014 at 10:43 am

    I live in the St. Louis area. I have not seen a blue jay for at least 3 years. I miss them. Wish I knew what happened.

  23. Davidon 21 Jan 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Mid January 2015 and there has been no Blue Jays here at the homestead in Bowie Maryland for almost 2 months. They were here in abundance before then feeding on the peanut splits.

  24. Jim Pon 05 Feb 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I’m reading this website because I typed in the Finder what happened to all the Blue Jays? I am astonished and dismayed that I am not the only one that has noticed this. I’ve lived in the Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania, an hour north of Philly, in a rural area with a relatively stable habitat and along a cornfield with literally miles of nearby tree lines for the last 35 years. I’m home much of the day and have seen no Blue Jays at our birdfeeder this year. A few Cardinals and lots of little brownbirds but none of the previous ubiquitous Blue Jays. Reading all these stories leads me to think this is not a problem with dying adult birds but a problem with breeding. Somebody better to figure this one out pretty fast.

  25. keith eastwoodon 03 Mar 2015 at 12:28 pm

    i live in NW In. and have no B.J.s in close to 10 yrs

  26. susanon 14 Mar 2015 at 11:15 am

    I am watching a dozen Blue Jays as I write. They are living well here in CT.
    I just never see them in the summer.

  27. edon 16 Mar 2015 at 9:48 am

    First bluejays of the spring just arrived in Palm Coast Florida. There is a pair harassing a crow in my backyard as I write this.

  28. Elaineon 19 Mar 2015 at 12:45 pm

    In and around 1960’s Blue Jays were
    abundant in Central Florida. Usually all I would see at our bird feeder were Blue Jays.
    I also remember seeing Very Large Grasshoppers. I also remember the singing sound of these Grasshoppers.
    Are Grasshoppers disturbing Blue Jay nesting??????
    Does anyone have a theory?????

  29. Raymondon 18 Apr 2015 at 10:10 am

    Last fall we had a few Blue jays around but none this winter or this spring. This in a small community east of Toronto Ontario Canada. Anyone know why this is happening……April 18 2015

  30. Kate St. Johnon 18 Apr 2015 at 10:43 am

    Raymond, because of a poor acorn crop last fall the blue jays left Canada. I hope they come back for you this spring. Here’s the forecast that explains what happened: http://www.birdsoutsidemywindow.org/2014/10/01/the-blue-jay-forecast/

  31. Patty Dresdenon 03 May 2015 at 8:28 am

    I’m in New Castle Delaware, soon to return to Arizona where I’ve never seen Blue Jays. I have lived in New Castle for over 55 years, where there has always been a very large population of Blue Jays at my feeders. I have not seen even one since coming here June of 2014. When I ask many people if they have seen any Blue Jays, they suddenly realize they haven’t. I found this website by looking up “Where are all the Blue Jays in Delaware”, only to find everyone else looking for the same answer. What could possibly be taking place that we have lost our Blue Jay population? From what I am reading, they seem to missing all the way over to the Mississippi Valley and maybe further and most of the East Coast.

  32. Brion 26 May 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Have not seen or heard a bluejay in 10 years in Florida. Tampa area. Now I have not seen any.

  33. Sandraon 26 May 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I live in Greenville, SC, and I’ve noticed fewer bluejays over the years. I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

  34. Trishon 28 May 2015 at 8:10 am

    Soooo many Blue Jays! May 28th 2015 Warren,Michigan. I had @ least 10 Large male Blue Jays all chirping and swooping between my Large ash and maple trees in my yard. They were so loud that the noise brought me to my window. Craziest thing! It’s usually rare to see one. Does anyone know why they do this?

  35. Kate St. Johnon 28 May 2015 at 8:17 am

    Glad to hear it! So many comments come from those who are missing them so it’s great to hear from a place where they’re abundant.

  36. Beverly Z.on 31 May 2015 at 10:13 am

    My aunt and I were speaking this morning and we both love the birds. She brought up the fact that we haven’t seen any Bluejays in quite some time. We live in Sarasota Fla. For years they were very abundant. I haven’t seen one in a couple of years. Disturbing. Spotted three Rosie spoon bills this morning though! Please give us an idea as to where and why have they gone.

  37. Kate St. Johnon 31 May 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Beverly Z, Blue jay abundance varies based on time of year. I looked at eBird.org to see what happens in Sarasota County, Florida.
    Time of Year:
    The peak is in the fall around October 1. There are fewer blue jays in your area in the spring (the migrants leave for the North) and those who are nesting are secretive. Here’s a chart showing blue jay abundance throughout the year in Sarasota County, Florida for the last 5 years (2009-2014): http://tinyurl.com/qh76t9x
    Location:
    In eBird you can also see where blue jays have been reported in your county. Here’s a link of blue jay sightings this year in Sarasota County: http://tinyurl.com/nt4g5sl
    Like all birds, blue jays prefer some habitats over others because those places have more of the foods they like. The map shows a pronounced abundance of blue jays observed along the Gulf Coast and fewer in the interior. [Note that this may be an anomaly because that there are more observers on the coast.]
    The bottom line is habitat. Perhaps the land in your area changed a lot in the the last few years.
    p.s. about Roseate Spoonbills: You are SO LUCKY to have them!

  38. Davidon 01 Jun 2015 at 4:03 am

    I posted on January 21 about not seeing any Blue Jays for two months and only a day after I posted that the Blue Jays reappeared. They have been around since. I love chatting with them. Today there was a Mockingbird doing a pitch perfect Blue Jay call with all the other calls he was mimicking.

  39. Amber bon 26 Jun 2015 at 3:02 am

    I have a family of bluejays in my backyard in illinois

  40. Amber bon 26 Jun 2015 at 3:04 am

    They r beautiful

  41. Jenon 03 Jul 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I have not seen any at my bird feeder for over two years and I live south of Pittsburgh. I remember they used to bully everyone else away from the feeder.

  42. Pamon 12 Jul 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I haven’t seen any around my yard in Wilmington DE in 2014 or 2015. For years there were families of five regularly in my yard each year. I haven’t changed anything in my yard, but several oak trees have been cut down by neighbors.

  43. Kate St. Johnon 12 Jul 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Pam, very perceptive of you to notice the missing oak trees. They’re a good hint as to why the blue jays are missing.

  44. Thereseon 24 Jul 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I live in southern RI. It has been about 5 years now since I’ve seen a blue jay or heard their screech when in flight. I’ve always had different types of bird feeders and my yard has many different trees and bushes for hiding or nesting.

    I miss the blue jays! I’ve noticed too that cardinals are waning off too! I wonder if climate change has anything to do with this. Maybe they’re moving elsewhere. Very sad. I love these brightly colored birds.

  45. Beryl Fulleron 14 Sep 2015 at 3:48 am

    I was so glad to see blue jays @our cabin in western new York ,near Mayville. NY , it was the first time in several yrs also we had woodcock’s they were around early in am but none last 2 yrs and wild turkeys also not seen this year,9-13-2015

  46. annon 18 Sep 2015 at 11:47 am

    I live in Austin Texas and the blue jays are everywhere, at my office close to the university of texas, at my home in southwest Austin I counted (last Saturday morning) 16 blue jays spreading over 3 back yards and it was so noisy you had to raise your voice to talk. What does so many blue jays congregating mean?

  47. Kate St. Johnon 18 Sep 2015 at 11:50 am

    Ann, blue jays are migrating so they’re hanging out together. They’re always noisy but it’s amazing that they’re that loud!

  48. KNDon 25 Sep 2015 at 8:00 pm

    The answer is avian influenza. Do you remember the bird flu scare a few years back? Well, when people we worried about catching the bird flu, the CDC collecting dead birds. Blue Jays, sparrows, crows, and others were carriers for the flu. Blue Jays were quite vulnerable to the flu and suffered a drastic population loss, which is why many of us haven’t seen Blue Jays recently.

  49. Kate St. Johnon 26 Sep 2015 at 12:12 am

    KND, yes I remember that bad time when the birds died of flu, especially the jays and crows. Our jay and crow populations have recovered in Pittsburgh. Have they not made a comeback where you live? (Regarding the word ‘Carry’: Technically it means to carry & spread a disease without getting sick. Sadly the jays & crows didn’t ‘carry’, they died. More info here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymptomatic_carrier

  50. JulieKon 07 Feb 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I am in Hudson, WI and this is the 2nd winter in a row that I have had no blue jays at my feeders. I saw just one blue jay last spring and it hung around for about 1 day. I am so puzzled and troubled by their disappearance.

  51. Scooteron 08 Feb 2016 at 6:35 pm

    We’re in the foothills (1500 ft) of Mt. Hood, OR & our stellar’s jays have disappeared this past month-what’s up? They were here during the winter & we fed them peanuts/birdseed everyday and have for nearly 20 years. They used to come when we called them and as well hung out near our windows & decks to wait for their treats. There was a mountain bobcat in the back & we only feed in clear areas or on an upstairs deck now to no avail. The weather calmed dramatically after a hard freeze and we’re flabbergasted by this behavior. Any insight/ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks kindly, Scooter ?

  52. Kate St. Johnon 12 Feb 2016 at 10:36 am

    Scooter, I don’t know why they would leave but they travel in family groups and are very intelligent so they will leave if they feel threatened. Here are two informational websites on Steller’s jays. Maybe they will give you a clue.
    Biref info & tips on Steller’s Jay from Northwest Wildlife from Vancouver, BC
    This one is long: A study of Abundance, Nest Sites, and Nesting Success of Steller’s Jays Along a Gradient of Urbanization in Western Washington by Vigallon & Marzluff, University of Seattle, Wshington.

  53. Scooteron 19 Feb 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Hi, Kate.

    Thanks so much for the links, I appreciate it. The Jays are sporadic, 1-2, in number and rarely come calling for their peanuts. No new wildlife in the area either. The only thing that comes to mind is the past couple of winters have been mild by comparison and perhaps their nesting habits are off (early) due to the milder weather as they tend to their nests? As an aside, most of our birds have retreated this past month, as have the squirrels and chipmunks. We had 3 types of woodpeckers, thrush, dark-eyed juncos, etc., 3 types of squirrels and they’re all absent. Hopeful to see if spring brings our friends back to us, we miss them. Kind regards, Scooter

  54. Dougbon 21 Feb 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Rarely see bluejays at the backyard feeder any more. It’s been like this about 3-4 years. Same with the painted bunting. Haven’t seen one of those in 8-10 years.
    Jacksonville Fl.

  55. Anne Hortonon 02 Apr 2016 at 10:32 am

    I live in Central FL all winter they came to feed they loved the peanuts. Along with Doves Cardinals finches wood peckers and squirrels. In the morning I would call Jay they would come and get their peanuts along with other bird food we provided. For the past week they are no longer here. I say we had 10 at one time. Just for the record they are the least aggressive bird that has come to visit.

    Can anyone tell me why they have now left?

  56. Kate St. Johnon 02 Apr 2016 at 10:41 am

    Anne, they are migrating north. Some of them will go to Canada to nest.

  57. Lani Wilsonon 23 Apr 2016 at 8:38 am

    I live in the mountains of Western N.C. and in the past years have seen a few blue jays come to my feeders over the summer. All of a sudden this week I have been flooded with them. At one time there were 10 -15 of them sitting on the rails,gathered together eating. Why all of a sudden are there so many? Can’t seem to find any information on this.

  58. Kate St. Johnon 23 Apr 2016 at 8:41 am

    Lani, blue jays migrate during the day and they’re on their way north right now. They travel in very loose flocks so we usually don’t notice it until they all land at once. Wow!

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