Bluebird vs Blue Jay: 8 Critical Differences

Birds are a constant source of unlimited beauty and no one would ever give up an opportunity to admire them. What makes these birds so admirable? There are many factors that contribute to this but the most important thing is the different colors that birds have.

The attractive, vivid colors on them combine to form such beautiful patterns that make birds unparalleled in beauty. Out of the innumerable colors that birds have, different shades of blue are very common. There are, in fact, many birds that are a striking blue. This article discusses the main differences between two of these bluebirds – the bluebird vs blue jay.

These birds have a lot in common and look alike in many ways.  So, whether you are a passionate bird watcher or someone who gets birds to visit your backyard, you will have to be able to tell these two birds apart when you actually do see them.

Though they are similar in some ways, since they belong to two completely different species of birds, they are bound to have certain differences and these differences are exactly what we need to focus on.

Both in size and loudness of voice, bluebirds are on the lesser side compared to the blue jays. Bluebirds are not as large as blue jays and they are also a little more cautious and diffident when compared to blue jays. It is evident that the pitch of the bluebirds is definitely lower than that of the blue jays. The blue jays are also much more audible than the bluebirds.

When it comes to being territorial, bluebirds are rather timid and hate conflicts with other birds. This makes them much more social as they are more than willing to share their territories with other birds too.

Blue jays, on the other hand, are known to be hostile and pushy when needed. So, they fight to safeguard their houses and do not hesitate to drive away other birds that come for their food.

There are many more differences between these two birds and this article lists them in the following order:

Bluebird vs Blue Jay – 8 Key Differences

NameBlue BirdBlue Jay
Size 5.9 to 8.3 inches9 to 12 inches
Weight0.85 to 1.31 ounces2.60 to 3.26 ounces
Habitat gardens, orchardsscrubland, forests, parks
Lifespan 6 to 10 years7 to 26 years
Body  StockyLong, with a crest
NestIn a cavity or nest boxCup-shaped nest in trees
Sexual dimorphismFemales dullerMales and females alike, but
males are a bit big

Bluebird vs Blue Jay: History And Family

The most important difference between these two birds is that they do not belong to the same family. Bluebirds belong to the family called Turdidae. This is an umbrella term for about 175 species of birds which comprises robins and thrushes also. This whole family of birds is called songbirds.

The family that blue jays are part of is called Corvidae. This family includes ravens, crows, magpies, and rooks. The number of species included in this family is around 120.

What are the other differences between these two families? The Corvidae family is a family of birds that make loud, rough sounds and are pretty friendly. They have feathers that have rich and bright colors which are also shiny. However, the appearance of the feathers on both genders is the same.  Their colors and sizes are not different.

On the other hand, among the birds that come under the Turdidae family, the males and the females are different. The males of these birds are much brighter and more attractive than the females which lack the dynamic colors of the male.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Physical Features

The physical features of these two birds are also pretty different. By physical appearance, we mean the size, shape, and colors of the birds.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay

Bluebirds are small birds and they measure anywhere between 6.5 and 8 inches. Their tails are not very long and are thin too. They have blue color on their heads and wings. However, the bluebird’s breast has orange or light brown and its underneath is usually white. These two things are very different from the blue jay.

There is a difference in the size of the beaks of both the birds and there is a direct connection between this size and the diet that the bird has. The beaks of the bluebirds are comparatively smaller than the beaks of the blue jays and hence, they also generally eat only small bugs and fruits. They also have big heads that are rounded and smooth. Their legs are not long. They have well-streamlined chests and stout bellies.

Compared to these slightly smaller birds, the blue jays are really big. Their measurements run up to 10 to 12 inches.  Their tails are also bigger as the width and length of their tails are more than that of the bluebirds. They have legs that are longer than those of the bluebird.

The blue jays have longer wings and their wingspan can reach even 16 inches. Their necks and chests are bigger than that of the blue jays. Their beaks are also bigger and this means that their diet need not be restricted only to small things. They readily eat all kinds of seeds, nuts and acorns thanks to the size of their beaks.

Though both the birds are blue, they look very different as the blue jay’s feathers are more prominently blue compared to the bluebirds. They look remarkable due to the vivid blue color. This is not all. They have various shades of blue on them. Their tails, wings, and faces are decorated with black lines which is contrasting. The underneath of a blue jay is generally white and they do not have any tinge of orange or brown. However, there can be hints of light blue.

There is another very important distinguishing feature that the blue jays have. Their crest on top of their heads is blue and this will help us identify the bird immediately as the bluebirds do not have this blue crest.

Blue jays are very possessive about their territories and will get very touchy when securing their territory. These birds are capable of raising and lowering their crest when they get emotional. This happens when they are preserving their territory and also when they are in the process of courtship. When they are normal, the crest is not raised but flat.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Sounds and Songs

Bluebird vs Blue Jay

Blue jays have another unique distinguishing feature. There are so many different types of sounds that they can make. They can whistle harmonious tunes, make mocking sounds, and even babble sounds.

They, however, do not make very loud noises. The noises are short-lived and are only for 2 minutes. They are capable of making whirring, chucking, whining, and clicking also.

These birds are also very capable of mimicking sounds that they hear including sounds like hawks which happen to be their predators. They do this to keep other birds away so that they do not have competitors. Other sounds that they can mimic are cats and cellphones ringing.

Bluebirds sing when they are ready to mate and also during the nesting season. The song that they sing during the nesting season is a lot milder usually.

Author Note: The female bluebird singing may be an indication that a predator is close by.

On the other hand, bluebirds are way shyer with their sounds and song. The latter typically lasts for only 2 seconds and features a low-pitched warbling with a bunch of whistles and chattering mixed in.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Behaviour

Beyond the distinction in outward appearance, there are other differences in the behavior of the two species also.

Bluebirds are generally shy birds and so are more relaxed and reclusive. They prefer to sit on the branches of trees as couples. This makes it very convenient for them to search for bugs on the ground exhaustively.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay

The Blue jays are far from reclusive. Their calls are loud and they are very enthusiastic and intelligent birds. They can get belligerent when it comes to protecting their territory and nests. They do not get scared of intruders even if they happen to be domesticated animals or even human beings.

Author Note: If Blue jays are intimidated by someone and feel vulnerable, their crests perk up and they also make loud, shrill sounds. They also snap their beaks really fast so that the enemy gets threatened.

Even when it comes to food, there is a difference between the two birds. Blue jays are possessive even about their food and are never willing to share it with the other birds. Bluebirds, on the other hand, evade any kind of conflict and opposition. Hence, they prefer to silently look for insects and seeds on the ground.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Habitat

Bluebird vs Blue Jay

What about the habitat of these two types of birds? They are also different. Bluebirds prefer fields that are open and also places that have only a few trees. They do not have any problem living in areas like golf courses and urban trails too.

Blue jays do not like to live in the open. They are spotted in areas that are crowded with trees, for instance in forests. However, these birds are very versatile and can adjust even in civilized areas provided there are many trees there.

Though their habitats are completely different, at times, these two birds are spotted together also. The most common areas to see bluebirds are Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, western Nebraska, and western Kansas.

Blue jays are commonly seen in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Washington in large numbers.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Nesting Preferences

Where and how these two species of birds make their nests also are not similar. Bluebirds do not make their own nests. They look for cavities that are there already and convert them into comfortable nests.

They bring grass, pine needles, twigs, and other things that are used for nests and line the cavities with them. Since they are in this habit, they like to also use nesting boxes that are left out in the yard. If you are interested in this, you should make sure that the boxes are available to these birds throughout the year as they settle in the boxes when the weather gets cold also.

Blue jays are very different in this aspect. They make their nests on trees. They specifically look for fork-like structures in trees where the branch and the trunk meet. These birds also like places that are high up. They are known to build their nests up to 20 feet high also.

Both genders of the blue jay join hands to make their nests. They search for and bring in the grass, bark, sticks, and moss and make beautiful nests that look like cups. If you are looking forward to having these birds nest in your backyard, you should provide them with a platform that is at least 8 square inches. They will need this space to make their nests.

Top tip: Since these birds like to make their nests in the fork-like formations seen in trees, it is a good idea to make them feel more comfortable and at home by keeping the nesting platform on a fork in a mature tree.

Bluebird vs Blue Jay — Food Preferences

The best way to entice birds to populate your yard is to give them something to eat. And this something has to be the food they really relish. The same principle applies to the bluebirds and blue jays too. If you want to see them in your yard, you should first get to know what they like to eat and then offer them that.

The favorite food of the bluebirds is suet and mealworms. They like to eat these off-feeders that are close to the ground or from platform feeders.

The list of food to be given to the blue jays is completely different. They prefer sunflower seeds, suet, and corn. They will like to eat these off a platform feeder. This feeder should give the bird enough space to rest and move around a bit.

Final Words

The tips discussed in this article are the most important and essential ones to help you differentiate between the bluebird and blue jay. To summarise the whole thing, bluebirds are comparatively smaller, quieter, and less bold. Their melodious tunes do not continue for long and are much softer than the songs of the blue jay.

Bluebirds are also more social and friendly with other birds than the blue jays which are belligerent as they are territorial. They are so possessive that they fight and chase birds away from their nests and also from the feeders they eat from.

Also check out: Top 20 Backyard Birds in North Carolina

About the author

Hi, I'm Andrew. I am a highly experienced birder with a passionate interest in bird behavior and ecology. I have worked extensively with both captive and wild birds, conducting research on their natural history, physiology, and conservation. My work has taken me all over the world, and I have been lucky enough to observe some of the rarest and most exclusive species on earth. I am also an experienced teacher, having taught ornithology at both the college and high school levels.

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