Order: Passeriformes, Family: Corvidae
Appearance/Behavior: The blue jay (25 – 30 cm) with its crest (blue arrow), distinctive blue backside (red arrow), and white underparts bearing a black bib is unique among birds documented at the compost piles. These social birds have been encountered at the piles in groups of one to five. This jay at times mimics the call of another compost visitor, the red-shouldered hawk.
Relative Frequency of Visitation in Study: A regular, but not common, visitor.
Seasonal Activity: Potentially year-round. Visitation documented from fall into early spring.
Daily Activity: Strictly diurnal.
Similar Species: No other compost visitors display this jay’s remarkable blue coloration. The only other regular member of the avian community at the study site that has brilliant blue plumage is the eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis), a smaller bird lacking the jay’s crest. Although not an issue in this experiment, based on acoustic data, the blue jay could be confused with another compost visitor, the red-shouldered hawk. The jay, a mimic, produces a remarkable imitation of the hawk’s vocalization.