Length: 34 cm.
Wingspan: 54 cm. The male and female have like plumage.
Voice: A penetrating ‘skraaak’ and sometimes a mewing note.
Size of Egg: 28.2—36.0 x 21.0—25.6 mm.
All of Europe, excepting Iceland and northern Scandinavia, provides a home for the jay, which frequents woodlands with undergrowth from lowland to mountain elevations. It is most abundant, however, in woods where oak stands predominate. Mostly a resident bird, it roams the countryside after fledging, but inhabitants of northern Europe
sometimes fly in large flocks to central Europe during the winter. The nest is built in spring, from April to May, generally amidst the dense branches of spruce trees on the margins of forests, at a height of four metres or more above the ground.
It is usually constructed of dry twigs and a layer of plant stalks and roots, but sometimes is made of moss and lined with grass. The clutch, consisting of 5 to 7 eggs, is incubated by the female for a period of 16 to 17 days. Both parents feed the young until the age of 20 to 21 days when they leave the nest and roam the countryside. Several families will later combine to form a flock.
When crossing open territory, however, the flocks break up and the birds fly singly and spaced far apart, converging again only after they have reached a forest. The diet consists of both vegetable and anima] food and the jay is likewise fond of birds’ eggs. In the autumn flocks visit oak woods, where they collect acorns. The jay is an extremely wary bird and, on sighting a human being, immediately utters a loud cry. In the vicinity of the nest, however, it is very quiet and cautious. The jay can imitate various sounds and birds raised in captivity can be taught to mimic words.