Eurasian jays are preyed on by many animals, including cats, birds of prey, and small terrestrial predators. Eggs and young are taken by martens (Martes) and cats (Felis). Adults and fledglings are largely taken by birds of prey.
Eurasian jays exhibit a variety of responses to predators, depending on the species and the circumstances. When they see a hawk flying above, they freeze, watch it flying, and emit a low moan in alarm. Mobbing is a common defense mechanism, and they use it against nearly all species of predators. Sometimes a threatened bird will emit the calls of more powerful birds, like tawny owls (Strix aluco), perhaps in an effort to frighten the attacker. Another use of mimicry in predation defense is when Eurasian jays fly out of sight of a threatening bird and then call it using its own species’ call notes. For instance, they have been observed to fly away from their nest in the presence of a carrion crow (Corvus corone, a nest predator) and mimic the crow’s own calls. Eurasian jays sitting on a nest can also sit quietly or sneak away rather than draw attention to their nest. A valuable defense measure is to simply avoid open spaces, where they are more vulnerable to avian predators.
- domestic cats (Felis catus)
- Bonelli’s eagles (Hieraaetus fasciatus)
- goshawks (Accipiter gentilis)
- Eurasian sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus)
- pine martens (Martes martes)
- beech martens (Martes foina)
- tawny owls (Strix aluco)
- barn owls (Tyto alba)
- long-eared owls (Asio otus)
- carrion crows (Corvus corone)
- common kestrels (Falco tinnunculus)
- Eurasian hobbies (Falco subbuteo)
- wild cats (Felis silvestris)
- other crows (Corvus)
Anti-predator Adaptations: mimic
- Palma, L., P. Beja, M. Pais, L. Cancela da Fonseca. 2006. Why do raptors take domestic prey? The case of Bonelli's eagles and pigeons. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43: 1075-1086.
- Toyne, E. 1998. Breeding season diet of the Goshawk Accipiter gentilis in Wales. IBIS, 140: 569-579.