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 Blue Jay

Status in Michigan

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Blue Jay.

Use the links below to view the Blue Jay reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Blue Jay sightings.
Blue Jay Archives Reports
Fall 2003 483
Spring 2003 236
Winter 02-03 218
Fall 2002 1418
Summer 2002 202
Spring 2002 776
Winter 01-02 205
Fall 2001 11616
Summer 2001 98
Spring 2001 252
Winter 00-01 512
Fall 2000 418
Summer 2000 74
Spring 2000 233
Winter 00-99 556
Fall 1999 408
Spring/Summer 1999 23

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Blue Jay

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Blue Jay
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Blue Jay
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Cyanocitta cristata bromia Oberholser
Northern Blue Jay (A.O.U. 1998: Blue Jay)

Permanent resident, common except in the northern half of Michigan, which it largely deserts in winter. A considerable migration through Michigan takes place in spring and fall.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 414).

SPRING.-The Northern Blue Jay occurs in all sections of Michigan both winter and summer, but migrating flocks of some size have been reported at a number of points, in southern counties principally in the first half of May, and in the Upper Peninsula in the latter part of May and in early June.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area (L. "W. Campbell, 1940: 112) "a definite migratory movement occurs between April 29 and May 15," flocks of sometimes 200 or 300 birds being seen. Flocks have been reported at Detroit (maximum, 200 on May 6, 1901, and 200 on May 16, 1917, recorded by Swales); at Port Huron, St. Clair County (a large flight throughout the month of May, reported by Barrows, 1912: 413) ; at Ann Arbor (a compact, swift-moving, high-flying, northbound flock of about 20 on both May 1 and May 9,1942, seen by Van Tyne); and in Berrien County (flocks of 20 to 30 birds in the second and third weeks of May, 1918 to 1920, reported by N. A. Wood, 1922 : 19). At Sand Point, Huron County (D. W. Douglass, from 1931 to 1933), there were migrating flocks from the first and second weeks of May to June 8. These Sand Point flocks usually contained from 10 to 40 birds, but on May 15, 1932, A. D. Tinker and B. E. Olsen estimated that 200 were present on the Point. On South Fox Island, Leelanau County, A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case reported Blue Jays still in flocks (of 10 to 25 birds each) through June 23, in 1939.

Upper Peninsula.-A prominent concentration area for this species is Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, where large flocks have been noted in late May and early June; on May 29, 1934, about 250 birds were seen there by "Walkinshaw; a few were noted before May 16, and large flocks in the first 4 days of June, 1914 (N. A. Wood, 1914: 66); from June 5 to 11, 1930, "hundreds if not thousands" were seen by Tyrrell (1934: 23). At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens (1940c; 21-22) has observed many flocks passing northeasterly, chiefly in the last 2 or 3 weeks of May; he counted 44 jays on May 5 (1934), 692 on May 14 (1932), and 125 on May 31 (1930). Christofferson reported a spring movement in May at Blaney, Schoolcraft County. In 1934 he saw about 50 jays daily in the last half of May. At Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County (N. A. Wood, 1933: 722), the species was common in migration from June 1 to 10, 1931, when flocks of 30 to 50 birds were noted.

SUMMER.-Eggs are commonly found in May and early June. Lower Peninsula.-Swales (1903: 36; and notes) listed the Blue Jay as a common resident in the Detroit area and found a nest with 4 eggs as early as April 29 (1900). The species nests commonly in the Ann Arbor region; the earliest nest reported there is one with 6 eggs, May 9, 1936, found by L. D. Case. A. S. Hyde collected a nest with 5 eggs (U.M.M.Z.) near Gregory, Livingston County, on May 16, 1936, and Fargo reported that 5 young left a nest at Jackson on June 18, 1936. In the vicinity of Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. W. Rapp (1931: 18) has discovered nests from May 4 (1897, 1 with 5 eggs) to June 17 (1899, 1 with 4 eggs). Barrows (1912:13) stated that nest-building activities at East Lansing were observed repeatedly in March and once in February, although fledglings were never seen before June 1. Blue Jays have been seen during late June on the Manitou (1940) and Fox (1939) islands, Leelanau County (by A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case), and also on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County (1937, by T. D. Hinshaw and R. E. Morrill). Van Tyne (1925: 621) noted the species as rather numerous in Charlevoix County in the summer of 1923; Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) noted a similar status in the Douglas Lake region, Cheboygan County, where they recorded nestlings on July 4, 1925, and July 17, 1935.

Upper Peninsula.-Both Bryens and Christofferson list the Blue Jay as uncommon in their respective localities; Bryens found a nest with 4 young on June 22,1941, at McMillan, Luce County, and Christofferson and Walkinshaw found a nest with 5 eggs on June 1, 1934, at Blaney, Schoolcraft County. N. A. "Wood (1914: 66) noted a few pairs of Blue Jays at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, in 1912 and 1914, and stated (1918: 9) that several pairs nested in 1916 in the vicinity of Whitefish Lake, northwestern Alger County. Christy (1925: 212) and S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 180), listed it as a common summer bird in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County; F. M. Gaige (1914: 84) saw several young, barely able to fly, near Jackson Lake, Dickinson County, on August 3, 1909. John L. George and R. L. Patterson saw 3 or 4 Blue Jays daily in the summer of 1938 at Golden Lake, Iron County; observers have seen the species commonly on Isle Royale during the summer months (Max M. Peet, 1909: 360; other data). FALL.-The fall migration, somewhat less well defined than spring movement, takes place mainly in September and October.

Upper Peninsula.-On Isle Royale N. A. "Wood noted a flock of 30 jays migrating on September 16, 1929. During most fall seasons at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson has observed migrating flocks of 25 to 100 birds, chiefly in the latter half of September (100 on September 20, 1937, and 100 on September 21, 2023).

Lower Peninsula.-In October and November in Alcona County, J. Claire Wood (1913: 17) saw individuals and very small groups, most of them moving in a southward direction. Near the Gladwin State Game Refuge, in northwestern Gladwin County, J. C. Salyer found flocks of mi- grants on October 18, 20, and 23, 1933; on October 20, these flocks (of 10 to 25 birds each) passed "at intervals of every hour or so," flying south- eastward. In the week of November 24 to 29, 1933, large flocks were still in the area. A flock of about 30 migrants was on Charity Island, Huron County (N. A. Wood, 1911: 98-99) from September 17 to October 11, 1910. Among other flocks reported is one of 40 birds seen over Watervliet, northern Berrien County, by G. A. Ammann on September 29, 1938. Swales listed 75 birds at Detroit on October 2,1912; in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, L. W. Campbell (1940: 112) recorded a definite movement from September 13 to October 21, but the flocks were smaller than those he recorded in spring.

WINTER.-Present in most areas of Michigan throughout the winter, the Blue Jay nevertheless varies considerably in numbers from winter to winter and from place to place. In the Upper Peninsula at Sault Ste Marie, Magee (1916: 369) recorded small numbers at his feeding station in winter. At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens (1940c: 21-22; Bryens and Harriger, 1929:46-47; other data) trapped over 100 jays at his station in the course of the winter of 1940-41, but found very much reduced numbers there during other winters. Eugene E. Crawford wrote of seeing flocks of "5 to 15 [Blue Jays] widely scattered through the woods" near Seney, Schoolcraft County, in the winter of 1936-37. Christofferson (1923: 29) recorded 15 birds at Munising, Alger County, on December 25,1922. At Palmer, central Marquette County, 0. B. Warren (1896: 83-84) found them regular and present in numbers at the lumber camps in winter; in the Huron Mountains in the same county, S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 180), termed them "rather rare" in winter. On Isle Royale Laurence Dayton observed them rather regularly throughout the winter of 1936-37.

Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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