Jays, Crows, Ravens (Corvidae)

Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata

The usually noisy blue jay makes a wide variety of calls. The most common are the jay and squeaky gate calls. These calls are quite variable and used in many contexts. Females make the rattle in spring and fall, especially when the flock is excited. It may also be used when a predator (including people) is near or when an intruding jay appears. (Albany County, New York)
Habitat: Woods, suburbs.

Mexican Jay

Aphelocoma wollweberi

Invariably in small groups, Mexican jays make a rising, soft and buzzy whit or zit call. Both of these groups moved quickly by us. (Big Bend National Park, Texas and Madera Canyon, Arizona)
Habitat: Montane pine-oak-juniper forests.

American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

The American Crow's conspicuous and noisy caw is used for long-distance communication. An individual bird may produce many variations of the caw, and the ways in which it is used are not understood. (Albany County, New York)
Habitat: Widespread in country and city.

Common Raven

Corvus corax

Photo of ravens at nest

Ravens make a wide variety of calls; some vary geographically, some are specific to sex, and some may be specific to individual birds. All of the following recordings were made in the vicinity of active nests. The raven's distinctive, loud, raspy croaks are usually given as a series of repeats. The predator alarm call is a series of kek-kek-kek sounds; we often heard this call when we approached within 100m of the nest. Nesting ravens will chase intruding birds (crows, raptors, other ravens). In this chase a raven gives the alarm, flies off and begins the chase, which can be heard again about 15 sec later. Raven nestlings are sometimes noisy. They often gape and call when no adult is at the nest. As soon as an adult arrives, they open their brilliant pink gape and beg loudly. The begging calls of young nestlings are higher pitched than the begging calls of chicks 19 days older. Chicks usually continue to call after the adult has left. To record calls of undisturbed birds, an autonomous recorder was left overnight near a nest with chicks, and the following clips were taken from the recording, which started at civil twilight the next morning (rushing water and sometimes chickadees or spring peepers are prominent): yells, whoops, short knocking calls, and knocking calls that opened with a click. Knocking calls are typically made by females. (Albany County, New York)
Habitat: Diverse - coniferous and mixed forests, mountains, tundra, arid brushy regions.