Blue jays are some of the loudest yet most beautiful birds native to eastern North America.
They are referred to as true love birds, but do they mate for life?
Blue jays are monogamous and can mate for life. Once paired, the social partners build nests and remain together throughout the year. Their mating bond ends when one partner dies, and the remaining partner may pair with another blue jay. However, some blue jays do not find other mates if their original partner dies, mating for life.
Blue Jay Mating System
Blue jays are monogamous birds that typically choose one partner to spend the rest of their lives with.
However, they don’t necessarily mate for life.
Most blue jays only remain loyal to their partner until one of them dies. When this happens, the remaining blue jay chooses a new partner.
In some instances, however, the remaining partner doesn’t choose another mate, staying loyal to its original partner for life.
Sexual Maturity And Reproductive Cycle
Blue jays typically hatch in spring and summer. Parents care for their offspring for about 17 to 21 days, when the young fledge the nest.
However, juvenile blue jays may remain in their natal range for up to two months before establishing themselves in a new territory.
Once established in a new home range, blue jays are ready to find a mate and can breed in their first year after hatching.
When Do Blue Jays Mate?
Mating typically occurs in spring and summer, from March to July. However, the breeding season can vary based on the actual home range location.
Blue jays in the north typically only mate once a year, producing a single annual brood. Those in southern regions, however, are known to produce two broods each year.
Females typically lay around three to six eggs per brood and incubate them for 17 to 18 days. Chickens take around three months to reach full independence and around one year to become sexually mature.
Blue Jay Mating Behavior
When ready to pick a mate, typically in the first year after hatching, female blue jays gather crowds of males to courtship her.
Older male blue jays that are not yet mated – or whose first mate has died – are thought to go through the courtship process earlier than young and inexperienced males.
The courtship is a display of plumage and singing males do to impress the female. Once the female gathers the potential mates in a tree, she takes flight, and the flock follows.
All males land when she lands, and the process continues for hours until all but one male abandons the ritual.
The most persistent male remains alone with the female and brings her food to start building a bond. After feeding her, they start practicing their nest-building skills, further strengthening their connection.
Blue Jay Nesting Behavior
Blue jay pairs lay eggs and raise their young in nests they built themselves.
Before building a permanent nest, a newly mated pair builds several incomplete ones to practice their skills.
Males are typically responsible for gathering nesting materials. Females inspect and choose the best sticks and twigs from the ones the male provided, arranging them in a loose nest.
Other nesting materials include moss, bark, and foliage, as well as mud that sticks everything together as mortar.
The final nest is built around 8 to 30 feet above the ground on a fork of tree branches. This is where the female lays up to six eggs per brood and incubates them.
Females are almost exclusively responsible for incubation, but males remain involved in feeding and defending the nesting females. Once the young hatch, both parents take care of and provide for the young.
Blue jays are typically aggressive, fiercely defending their nest and offspring.
Offspring become independent in about three months. In warm climate areas, blue jays may produce two broods in the same year.
What Happens When A Blue Jay Loses Its Mate?
Losing a mate is not the end of the world for most blue jays. The remaining partner may go through a grieving process but generally picks a new mate.
However, some blue jays choose not to mate again once their first partner dies.
Blue jays are common songbirds in North America. Owing to their lovebird moniker, they are monogamous and mate for life until one of the partners dies.
Bonded pairs remain together throughout the year, building nests and caring for the offspring together.
A mated blue jay whose partner has died typically chooses another partner in the next mating season. However, some individuals will spend the rest of their lives grieving and will not mate again.