cardinal and blue jays

Cardinals and Blue Jays are crested North American songbirds, but that’s where the similarities seem to end. Learn more about these birds and what makes them so different!

Cardinals and Blue Jays – Bright Birds By Nature

Imagine a world without the Northern Red Cardinal’s fiery red or the Blue Jay’s brilliant blue. It would be a drab, lifeless place devoid of the vibrant hues that make nature’s canvas captivating. But there is no need to worry; Cardinals and Blue Jays are abundant, and their colors are a testament to the wonders of evolution and adaptation.

Northern Red Cardinals

Let’s start with the male cardinal, that crimson-clad songbird that graces our backyards with melodic tunes. Its striking red plumage is no mere accident; it’s a carefully crafted evolutionary strategy to attract mates and assert dominance. The male Northern Red Cardinal’s feathers contain a unique pigment called carotenoid, which it obtains from the seeds and fruits it consumes. This pigment is deposited in the feathers, giving them that unmistakable scarlet hue that sets hearts aflutter.

But the male cardinal’s red feathers aren’t just for show; they also serve as a powerful signal of health and vitality. Only the fittest, most robust cardinals can produce the deepest, most vibrant shades of red, making them irresistible to potential mates. It’s how nature ensures that only the most robust genes are passed on to the next generation.

  • Cardinals are not migratory and tend to stay in the same territory year-round. Their bright red color helps them stand out and defend their territory.
  • The northern cardinal is the state bird of 7 U.S. states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • Cardinals and Blue Jays are rivals in nature and sports; however, I have created memorial gifts featuring Blue Jays and Cardinals together at the request of some of my favorite customers. They have been popular in the Cardinal Memorials shop.
  • In some cases, cardinals have been observed persistently attacking their reflections in windows or car mirrors, mistaking them for rival male cardinals.
Cardinals and Blue Jays Heart Tile Memorial Gift
Cardinals and Blue Jays with Hearts Stained Glass Look Ceramic Tile Memorial Gift

Blue Jays

Now, let’s turn our attention to the blue jay, that raucous, bold-as-brass bird that commands attention wherever it goes. Unlike the cardinal, the blue jay’s brilliant plumage isn’t the result of pigments; it’s a masterful trick of light and physics. You see, the blue jay’s feathers are composed of microscopic keratin structures that scatter and reflect light in a specific way, creating the illusion of blue.

But here’s the kicker: the blue jay’s feathers aren’t blue at all! They’re a dull, brownish-gray color, but the intricate arrangement of these microscopic structures causes the light to interfere and create that stunning azure hue that we all know and love. It’s a mind-boggling feat of engineering, courtesy of Mother Nature herself.

  • Blue jays are members of the Corvidae family, making them relatives of crows and ravens. They are known for their intelligence and complex social behavior.
  • Blue jays are omnivorous and will eat seeds, nuts, berries, insects, and even the eggs and nestlings of other birds, including cardinals.
  • Blue jays have a unique ability to mimic the calls of hawks, allowing them to scare away potential threats to their nests.
  • While some blue jay populations migrate, others remain in the same area year-round, storing thousands of acorns and other nuts for the winter.
  • Cardinals are smaller but very feisty birds that will attack and chase blue jays away from their territory. However, the larger, more aggressive blue jays often dominate in physical confrontations.

Appreciating Cardinals and Blue Jays in Nature

So, the next time you see cardinals and blue jays in nature, take a moment to appreciate the incredible evolutionary journey that has brought these feathered wonders into existence. Their colors are more than just pretty plumage; they’re a testament to the astonishing power of adaptation and the relentless march of natural selection.

But for now, let’s bask in these feathered masterpieces’ glory and revel in the beauty of nature’s palette, which is as diverse and captivating as ever. Cardinals and blue jays are living proof that beauty and wonder are all around us if only we take the time to appreciate them.