Nothing brightens up the Canadian landscape like a Blue Jay. The brilliant hue of these clever birds from the Crow family makes them easy to spot regardless of the background or the season.
Four sub-species of Blue Jays exist in North America, each distinguished by different colouring or size. The lavender blue Northern Blue Jays found in central Canada are paler than the bright Coastal birds found here in Nova Scotia. The Inland jays found in the United States are a darker blue that contrasts sharply with their whiter underside. Florida Blue Jays are of the smallest size yet are similar in colour to the Northern variety.
Light refraction causes a Blue Jay’s feathers to appear blue. This process depends exclusively on the integrity of the feather’s structure. If a feather is crushed, it cannot refract light and consequently will lose its blueness. A dull grey feather is the result.
Below are some of the Blue Jay feathers I’ve collected in my yard over the years. They’re patterned with black, white-tipped, or just showing blue on one side, depending on which part of a Blue Jay’s body they fell from. Each one caught my eye as it lay on the ground. It’s amazing how much of the colour has been retained, as some of these are more than fifteen years old.