Asked by: Prof. Katarina Considine MD

Are blue jay feathers actually blue?

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In actuality, though, blue jays aren't really blue. ... In fact, blue pigment is rare in nature. Instead, the pigment in a blue jay's feathers — melanin — is brown, but we perceive it as blue because of a phenomenon called light scattering, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Read more

  • Structural Color in Birds - Blue Feathers Are Not Blue!
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Are bluebird feathers really blue?

But blue pigment is rare. ... Instead, the blue sported by bluebirds comes from tiny air pockets inside the feathers, which scatter light to create blue. Red feathers, however, rely on pigment alone.

What color are a Bluejays feathers?

It surprised many of us to learn that blue jay feathers aren't actually blue but more of a grayish brown tint. We learned that when light touches tiny pockets of air on blue jays' feathers, the full color spectrum is absorbed except for blue, which is reflected in the light.

What color are bluebird feathers?

Blue colors in feathers are almost always produced in this manner. Examples include the blue feathers of bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Blue Jays and Steller's Jays. Feather color produced by the refraction of light by an organized structure of keratin proteins in the feather.

What does it mean when you find blue jay feathers?

Seeing blue jay feathers is an indication that you must be careful who you trust. There may be lying or deceitful people around you. Jay also tells you to form long-lasting and trusting friendships and to invest yourself in your family and community instead of going outward.

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Most frequently asked questions

Is it illegal to have blue jay feathers?

According to the Migratory Birds Treaty Act, it is illegal to own native bird feathers or bits of egg shells, even if you found them in your yard. Technically, a child with a collection of colorful cardinal and blue jay feathers would indeed be considered a lawbreaker.

What is the difference between a bluebird and a blue jay?

Bluejays are much larger than bluebirds, commonly growing to 10-12 inches. Bluejays have large, strong beaks – which they use to feed on nuts, seeds and acorns. Bluejays are much louder and more aggressive than most birds. Bluejays don't migrate and are commonly found in the eastern region of North America.

Are Eastern bluebirds really blue?

Male Eastern Bluebirds are vivid, deep blue above and rusty or brick-red on the throat and breast. Blue in birds always depends on the light, and males often look plain gray-brown from a distance. Females are grayish above with bluish wings and tail, and a subdued orange-brown breast.

Do Bluebirds have blue pigments?

Why are bluebirds blue? Unlike many other bird colors, blue is not a pigment but a color produced by the structure of the feathers. Tiny air pockets and melanin pigment crystals in each feather scatter blue light and absorb the other wavelengths.

Are Blue Jays rare?

Blue jays aren't rare. Their population seems to have stabilized over the past few years. They inhabit mixed forests throughout the central and northern areas of the United States and the Southern Canadian Pacific Coast. They have extended northwestwards recently.



Structural Color in Birds - Blue Feathers Are Not Blue!

Are blue jays babies blue?

By this time, the juvenile blue jays look similar to the adults, but their heads are not crested and they tend to be more gray and white, with less blue or black coloring.

Are Cardinals really red?

Cardinals Are Red From Carotenoid Pigments

The Northern Cardinal and a number of other red, orange, and yellow birds, get their coloring from eating fruit, seeds, and other parts of plants that are rich in carotenoid pigments. (Carotenoids are responsible for the bright orange in carrots, giving this pigment its name.)

Are Cardinals actually red?

For cardinals, their bright red color is highly dependent on their diets. Cardinals get carotenoids from the seeds and fruits they eat. In cardinals, carotenoids can accumulate in the cell of growing feathers and depending on a few factors, will appear as a bright red color in the plumage of a male cardinal.

Is there blue pigment in bird feathers?

They obviously look blue, but here is something that you probably don't know: There is no blue pigment in their feathers. If you grind up the wing of a cardinal, the resulting powder will be red. If you do the same with a blue jay feather, the powder will be brown.

Do Blue Jays eat other birds?

When Do Blue Jays Attack or Eat Other Birds? Blue Jays are most likely to attack other birds around a food source. ... As opportunistic omnivores, Blue Jays may eat other birds eggs or fledglings but this is not common behavior. They prefer seeds, nuts and insects.

Are parrots blue?

Although green is a dominant color in many parrots, you still can find several pet birds with beautiful blue feathers. Blue parrot species range from small to very large in size and come in powdery light blues to deep indigos. Some of these birds simply have flashy blue markings while others are predominantly blue.

Why are Blue Jays mean?

They are nest predators, and they eat eggs as well as baby birds. They are frequently aggressive with other birds. If they believe that they are being threatened or that their territory might be infiltrated, they take extreme measures such as attacking the birds responsible by creating a mob with other blue jays.

Why is blue not common in nature?

But when it comes to nature, blue is very rare. Less than 1 in 10 plants have blue flowers and far fewer animals are blue. ... Part of the reason is that there isn't really a true blue colour or pigment in nature and both plants and animals have to perform tricks of the light to appear blue.

Do blue birds molt?

Bluebirds molt into a new plumage every fall.

Adult bluebirds in North America replace their entire plumage once a year between July and October, corresponding to the summer and part of the fall season. ... Bluebirds become bluer after the fall.

Do bluebirds have a meaning?

The bluebird is a symbol of hope, love, and renewal and is also a part of many Native American legends. It symbolizes the essence of life and beauty. Dreaming of bluebirds often represents happiness, joy, fulfillment, hope, prosperity, and good luck.

Is a Blue Jay a cardinal?

Blue jays and cardinals are not related. Blue jays are part of the Corvidae family of birds including magpies, jackdaws, ravens, rooks, and crows. Cardinals are members of the Cardinalidae family, which is made up of grosbeaks, buntings, and cardinals. At best, they're both passerines and distant relatives.

Is a jaybird the same as a Blue Jay?

Blue jays can be very aggressive to other birds; they sometimes raid nests and have decapitated other birds. ... Jays are also called jaybirds.

Do cardinals get along with Blue Jays?

Blue jays don't get along with cardinals because of their significant levels of intelligence. They can manipulate and control circumstances for their potential benefit, especially when working in a group.