Did you know blue jays often mimic the calls of hawks, but no one really knows why? Blue jays, extremely common birds throughout the eastern half of North America, have a reputation for being bold and raucous. Despite their reputation, though, there's no denying that they are stunningly beautiful birds.
Blue jays are especially skilled at mimicking red-tail hawks and red-shouldered hawks, but they also mimic broad-winged hawks, Cooper's hawks, ospreys, kestrels, and bald eagles. The question is... why?
No one knows for sure. Here are some of the suggested reasons:
1. To attract a mate
Blue jays often imitate hawks during mating season. Maybe part of impressing a mate is to demonstrate that you can imitate a variety of different calls...?
2. To defend their territory
Blue jays hate other animals coming near their nests, so maybe mimicking a hawk might scare off potential nest invaders.
3. To let other blue jays know a hawk is nearby
Hawks prey on blue jays. So, what better way to warn other jays that a hawk is near than to imitate a hawk call. Assuming, of course, that other jays can tell the difference between a fake hawk call and a real hawk call.
4. To fool other birds into thinking a hawk is near
Blue jays are mischievous, right? Why wouldn't they scare other birds away from a food source, to get all the food for themselves? People have actually observed blue jays mimicking hawks to make other birds drop bits of food, then the jays swoop and steal the food.
Hmm... I'm leaning toward #4. In my opinion, blue jays are definitely sneaky (and smart). What do you think?
- Blue jay - DepositPhotos
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