Blue Jay vs Cardinal Birds (7 Key Contrasts, Factors)

Cardinals come from their “Cardinaldidae” family, whereas Blue Jays belong to the “Corvidae” family. Nonetheless, both bids belong to the similar “Passeriformes” order. They also have a distinctive appearance, with Blue Jays having dominant blue color patterns and Cardinals with dominant red colors. Plus, Cardinals build their nests in peripheral woodland, and Blue Jays prefer dense vegetation.

Cardinals and Blue Jays are two of the most attractive birds you will ever see. Many people pet them for their fantastic appearance with those charming feathers.

Most people become confused with Blue Jay and Cardinals and think they are the same birds. But that’s not true. You will find these birds also differ in their appearance, habit, origin, and food behavior.

Personality Traits Between Cardinal and Blue Jay

TraitCardinalBlue Jay
ProtectivenessProtective of young and territoryProtective of young and territory
CourtshipUnique ritual involving male feeding female seeds and singing softlyMore conventional, singing and putting themselves on display

What food do the Cardinals and Blue Jays eat?

Some common foods that cardinals and blue jays both eat:

  • Seeds: Sunflower seeds, peanuts, safflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, and nyjer seeds are all popular choices.
  • Fruits: Berries, grapes, apples, and oranges are all enjoyed by these birds.
  • Insects: Beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects are a good source of protein.
  • Nuts: Blue jays especially enjoy acorns, but cardinals will also eat them.
  • Carrion: If food is scarce, these birds will sometimes eat small mammals, eggs, or even carrion.

Cardinals and blue jays both have omnivorous diets, meaning they eat both plants and animals. However, their preferences vary somewhat.


  • Nectar: Cardinals will sometimes drink nectar from flowers, especially during the breeding season.
  • Berries: Cardinals are particularly fond of elderberries, but they will also eat other types of berries, such as blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Blue Jays

  • Acorns: Blue jays are known for their love of acorns. They will often bury acorns for later, and they have been known to hoard up to 100 acorns at a time.
  • Mealworms: Blue jays are also fond of mealworms. Mealworms are a good source of protein, and they can be purchased at most pet stores.
  • Suet: Suet is a high-fat food that is often used to attract birds during the winter. Blue jays are particularly fond of suet, and they will often eat it right off of the feeder.
Blue Jay

The Differences between Blue Jay vs. Cardinal

Cardinal and Blue Jays are two of the most popular birds worldwide, particularly in America, for their vivid colors and attractive appearance.

Although they may appear similar at first glance, they differ in their origin, habitat, coloration, vocalization, etc.

1. The difference in origin:

Although these birds may look similar, they come from distinctive bird families and genera according to their classification. The genus and family are two important ranks for classifying all species worldwide.

According to the scientific classification, Blue Jay comes from the “Corvidae” family and the “Cyanocitta” genus. On the contrary, the Cardinals come from the “cardinalidae” family and the “cardinalis” genus. So, they have a distinct origin.

Nonetheless, they belong to the same order in the classification rank, namely “Passeriformes.”

2. The difference in habitat:

Blue Jay and Cardinals share almost a similar habitat. You will find the Blue Jays in the woodland.

Also, they live mostly in the peripheral locations of the forest than in the denser areas. They live mostly in the oak trees.

On the other side, Cardinals prefer living in denser vegetation. You will almost always find them in a deep forest.

However, they don’t like coming close to human beings like Blue Jays. These birds are also found in bird feeders in cities and towns.

blue Jay

3. Appearance and coloration difference:

One of the easiest ways to differentiate the Blue Jays from the Northern Cardinal is to see their appearance and colors.

Blue Jays, like their name, have a blue color dominant in their appearance. You will also find different shades of blue in its feathers that look fantastic.

On the other side, the Cardinals mainly have red as the dominant color in their feather.

These birds also have different colors in their beak. Cardinals have a reddish beak while Blue Jays feature a black beak. So, you may look at their beak color and easily find their physical difference even without being a bird specialist.

Another key difference in their appearance is seen in their neck. Blue Jays have a black ring right around its neck.

It looks similar to a necklace. Northern Cardinals don’t have such a design on their neck.

4. Vocalization:

Vocalization refers to the way birds sing and chirp to communicate between them. The difference in vocalization is important as both birds are famous as songbirds.

You will find it close to someone whistling if you observe the Cardinals singing. On the contrary, the singing of Blue Jays is like whispering.

Also, its song will feel mellow in your ear. On top of it, each song of Blue Jays will last almost 2 minutes.

Cardinals are no match for Blue Jays in this regard as its song will continue only for 3 to 5 seconds.

5. The difference in physical attributes:

When you look at the Northern Cardinal and Blue Jays, you will find multiple key differences in their physical features. Usually, they have an almost similar length varying from 20cm to 25cm. However, they differ significantly in their weight.

Blue Jay’s weight varies between 65grams to 110grams. A Cardinal with 40 to 45 grams is quite lighter than the Blue Jays.

Next, Northern Cardinals feature a thicker and shorter bill while Blue Jays have a straight and long bill. It is also one of their key identification marks.

6. Differences in their male and female appearance:

Many bird species are so different in their male and female versions that you may even consider them entirely distinctive species.

So, you must know the difference between Blue Jay vs. Cardinal in their male and female versions.

The male and female Blue Jays look almost similar with no difference in their color and physical appearance. But that’s not true for the Cardinals.

The physical appearance of male and female Cardinals is entirely distinctive.

Male Cardinals have a vivid red color. On the contrary, female ones have a pale olive color. So, you may easily identify male and female Cardinals by looking at their coloration.

7. Feeding habits:

One of the key distinctions between Blue Jays and Cardinals is their food habit. When you look at their diet closely, you will easily find how different they are.

Cardinals are mainly granivorous. It means they mainly live on various grains. So, it includes seeds, fruits, and multiple grains.

Blue Jays are truly omnivorous birds as they eat almost anything they will find. You will find them eating grains, fruits, frogs, nuts, etc. They may eat mice if they can get a chance.

Unfortunately, Blue Jays also feed on the eggs of other birds.

Tips for attracting cardinals and blue jays to the backyard

  • Offer the right food. Cardinals and bluejays both enjoy a variety of seeds, including black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and cracked corn.
  • Place your feeders in a safe location. Birds are prey animals, so they’re looking for a safe place to eat. Avoid placing your feeders near windows, where cats or other predators can get to them. Instead, place them in a quiet, shady spot in your yard.
  • Keep your feeders clean. Dirty feeders can harbor bacteria and parasites, which can make birds sick. Clean your feeders regularly with hot soapy water.
  • Provide water. Cardinals and blue jays need access to water for drinking and bathing. A birdbath is a great way to provide this for them.
  • Plant native plants. Native plants provide food and shelter for birds. You can find native plants at your local nursery or garden center.
  • Be patient. It may take some time for birds to find your feeders and water. Once they do, they’ll be a regular visitor to your yard.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do the Blue Jays fight with the Cardinals?

Blue Jays not only fight with the Cardinals but also will scare them away always.

Blue Jays are quite aggressive and will scare bird species smaller than them. They, at times, get engaged in a fight with birds bigger than them.

What does it mean when you see a Blue Jay and a Cardinal?

Blue Jay and Cardinals often refer to spiritual togetherness and guidance. When you see these birds together, they are there to guide you spiritually.


Blue Jay vs. Cardinal discussion shows that these birds differ entirely. They don’t have any similarities at all. While the first one features the dominant blue color, the latter has red colors.

Also, the Blue Jays are more aggressive than the Cardinals. In fact, Blue Jays will almost always scare off Northern Cardinals whenever they see this bird species.

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