Have You Seen Any Blue Jays Lately?

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.

Amazingly I’ve seen them only four times this winter:  On November 6 and 13, 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?

(*) UPDATE, September 19, 2019: Science Magazine reports today that the blue jay population has declined in North America by 25% since 1970. Those birds haven’t left for somewhere else. They’re gone.


BLUE JAY ABUNDANCE INFORMATION: February 2012 to March 2019

  • Click here for an eBird map of blue jay abundance in Pennsylvania 2014-2019.  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)

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