This spring a pair of blue jays nested in my backyard and fledged a single youngster before Memorial Day.
The fledgling was short-tailed, perky and adventuresome, often standing wide-eyed in exposed open places. His parents followed him everywhere and seemed to say, “Be careful! Don’t stand out in the open like that!”
But the fledgling was too naive. By the third day he went missing, undoubtedly dead. His parents started to build a new nest.
They scouted together in my backyard, gathering moss and rootlets. According to the nest description in the Petersen Field Guide to Birds’ Nests blue jay nests are …
Bulky, well hidden in crotch or outer branch of coniferous or deciduous tree, 5-50 ft above ground, commonly 10-25 ft. Built by both sexes of thorny twigs, bark, mosses, string, leaves; lined with rootlets.
The second nest is so well hidden that I didn’t find it, but here’s what it would look like (photo by Henry T. McLin).
The pair has time to raise a second brood, especially if the female laid eggs in the first week of June. From first egg to fledging takes 38 to 45 days:
- Blue jay egg laying takes 4-6 days (one egg per day, clutch of 4-6)
- Incubation lasts 17-18 days
- Nestlings fledge in 17-21 days.
I hope to see baby blue jays around July 15. I’m wishing them better luck this time! See more news below(*).
p.s. There’s a story behind the blue jay family in the nest above. Click here to read.
(*) Unfortunately the second brood failed, too. I saw a nestling on the ground, too young to fly, on July 7. I repeatedly placed it up high in the vicinity of the nest but the nestling kept hopping back down to the ground. Eventually it hid under the lip of our bird bath.