Breeding & Rearing Jays 






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 In the past I have exhibited Magpies, Jays, and Jackdaws.


I have a liking for these lovable pest species, despite many of these being shot and killed each year on shooting estates across the country.


The law still requires them to be close rung if they are to be exhibited or sold.


I must admit my favorite of these species is the jay,


I have two breeding pairs these are kept in aviaries measuring nine foot x four foot x six feet.


In mid April I place a basket in each aviary and ample nesting material consisting of small twigs horsehair and flock (stuffing from old type mattresses).


Usually the pairs both cart the material all over the aviary floor,


After a few days the hen will start to build her nest in earnest with the cock supplying material to her.


The cock during this period will display to the hen raising and lowering his crest and feeding her.


By the end of April or early May she will be sitting on eggs between three and seven eggs are laid but the norm is four.


These are incubated by the hen but in the wild it is known that the cock takes his turn, the cock will feed her on the nest.


After sixteen to seventeen days the eggs will hatch. A few days before they hatch I add extra meat and live food,



In the wild they will eat most any meat food,  road kills, nestlings from songbirds, and game bird chicks also frogs, mice, beetles etc.


But in domestic form I feed a staple diet of chicken pellets, peanuts, tinned cat meat, fruit, and their favorite food acorns when in season.


When they are rearing young I give them raw mince, liver, fresh each day with mealworms.


I usually take the chicks away from the parents at six days old and hand rear them as I can control the amount of food each chick receives this also avoids the chance of the adults eating them and it also keeps them steady.


I hand rear my chicks on scrambled egg, meat, cheese and green food mixed in. All made fresh each day this is fed to the chicks every hour.


After each feed the nest has to be cleaned to keep the chicks in a dry clean condition.


The diet when rearing chicks as is with all young is crucial at this time as lack of calcium will result in deformed feet, legs and poor feather quality


I ring the chicks when they are taken from the parents as to ring them earlier may result in rejection and lost chicks.


The size ring for jays is P and is available from the British Bird Council


The jay is an excellent mimic and I have an adult that has quite a large vocabulary


If you wish to teach a jay to talk you must start when the bird is very young



The show standard for the jay is:


Size: well developed.                                                                                                            10


Shape: stout.                                                                                                                         15


Colour and markings:


pinkish brown body with streaked black and white erect crown feathers,
white patch on wings with sharp blue and black barred wing coverts,
Showing a bright pale blue eye.                                                                                            35


Quality of feather and condition:                                                                                           20        


Steadiness and staging:                                                                                                         20




The jay should be staged in a minimum cage size measuring:


Length 30 inches height 20 inches width 14 inches