Last Updated on October 13, 2022 by Guillermina
Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals are two of North America’s most popular and familiar birds. These birds have a place in American culture, thanks to their alluring plumage and charisma.
The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of seven US states – the highest by any bird species in the country. It is also the mascot of teams like St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Cardinals and schools like Illinois State University, among others.
On the other hand, the blue jay is the provincial bird of Prince Edward Island in Canada, as well as the mascots for universities like John Hopkins, Elmhurst University, and the Toronto Blue Jays team.
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Are Blue Jays And Northern Cardinals Related?
While their crests and similar postures may arouse suspicion of a possible relationship, they are unrelated. The dissimilarity is much more than the apparent colour differences. It is, in actuality, quite profound and starts at the family level. They are both members of the order Passeriformes through – an order that is made up of more than half of all bird species.
The blue jay is a member of the bird family Corvidae, of which crows, ravens, choughs, magpies and treepies are members. The Corvid family is arguably the most intelligent bird family on the planet. Like most family members, blue jays are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, fruits, grains, carrion and eggs, and so on.
Northern cardinals belong to the bird family Cardinalidae – the cardinal family. Other members of this family include grosbeaks, tanagers, and buntings. Like other family members, they feed on seeds, fruits, nuts and insects. The dissimilarity between the two birds spills over into their behavioural traits as well. Blue jays are very intelligent, bold, and aggressive birds.
They are renowned bully birds, notorious noise makers, and fierce defenders of their nests. They have a habit of chasing off other birds when competing for food, so garden owners often chase them off so other birds can settle in. Northern Cardinals, on the other hand, are pretty cautious birds. They are also known to defend their nests from intruders – albeit less ferociously.
With a body length of fewer than 10 inches, a wingspan of about a foot, and a weight between 1 and 2 ounces, the Northern Cardinal is a mid-sized bird. The male has a unique red-coloured plumage, darker at the wings and back. Its face and the upper part of its neck is black.
The female is less flamboyantly coloured. It is fawn-coloured with a greyish face, and its wings have a slight reddish tinge. The two sexes have crests, bright, cone-shaped beaks, and brownish legs and feet.
The blue jay’s appearance is just as striking. It has blue plumage, true to its name. There, however, may be subtle changes in the shades of different body parts. It has black eyes, a white underside, a black-collared neck, and black legs. There isn’t much difference in the physical appearance of the two sexes, apart from size. Its crest’s orientation changes with mood. The blue jay weighs 2.5 to 3.5 ounces, is about a foot long, and has a wingspan marginally more than a foot.
Do Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals Get Along?
Simply put, they are not what one would call bird buddies. First, the blue jay is way up the pecking order of birds compared to the cardinal. This is not without good reason. First is the disparity in size. The blue jay weighs almost two times the northern cardinal, on average. The average blue jay weighs around three ounces. Most cardinals rarely weigh up to two ounces.
Second is the differences in their personality. The blue jay is much more daring than the cardinal, which is often cautious. The former also has inclinations of hostility towards other species – whether they be birds or not. Also, there is a disparity in intelligence. In this regard, there exists a gulf between the two species. Jays are much more intelligent, as they are corvids. For example, while blue Jays are resourceful and have a remarkable memory, northern cardinals can hardly recognize themselves in the mirror. The blue jay, therefore, has a glaring advantage of dominance over the cardinal.
Blue jays used these advantages against the cardinals – much to the latter’s detriment. There have been several sightings of blue jays attacking cardinals and stealing food from them. Blue jays also scare cardinals away from bird feeders. Food clashes are inevitable as they have overlapping dietary choices, after all. Sometimes, blue jays even go as far as feeding on cardinal eggs and young. They kill more cardinals than many other birds.
The cardinal is not a hopelessly defenceless bird. However, they are often skittish against larger and more daring birds, for the most part. Besides, there isn’t much they can do against birds like jays – especially with the latter’s mob mentality. Summarily, the two birds’ relationship is that of an ecological competition often unfair to the cardinal. Blue jays often occasionally scare them off their bases – especially in garden backyards.
What Does Seeing A Blue Jay And A Northern Cardinal Mean?
Despite the apparent friction between the two species, blue jays and northern cardinals may occasionally appear together. There have been a few recorded (rare) scenarios in this respect – the two birds spotted perched or flying together. So, what does it mean to see these two birds together in your garden or flying together? The answer lies in spiritual symbolism.
However, firstly, it is worth noting that these birds have individual spiritual meanings. Blue jays represent several qualities, depending on the context. These include courage, faithfulness, solidarity, protection, intelligence, curiosity, and communication. In addition, some others believe it could stand for mischief, mimicry, and change. Northern Cardinals, on the other hand, symbolize love, loyalty, and strife toward self-empowerment and reaching your goals in the face of opposition.
A sighting of these two birds together is generally a message of optimism. You can expect good luck and prosperity if you are lucky enough to witness this phenomenon. Furthermore, if you see them flying together, it is regarded as a message of hope. However, it is noteworthy that a sighting of this pair could be said to also be a warning, of sorts, depending on prevailing circumstances.
Conclusion On Blue Jays And Northern Cardinals Together
Blue jays and northern cardinals’ territories overlap in the central part of the USA and the Southeastern parts of Canada. Therefore a history and a relationship between the two species are inevitable. Indeed, they have a pretty unique relationship.
However, despite the apparent friction among these species due to dietary similarities and the like, there is not much upset in the ecosystem.
Blue jays and northern cardinals still co-exist in impressive numbers. Unlike many other animals today, blue jays and cardinals population are pretty stable and don’t look like they will be plummeting anytime soon.