Jabberjays are genetically engineered birds that were created by the Capitol to spy on the rebels during the First Rebellion.

The Definitive Glossary for The Hunger Games

As an experiment, jabberjays proved to be one of the biggest failures of the Capitol, with the rebel forces using them to feed false information to government authorities. As a result, the jabberjay mutts were left to go extinct in the wilderness. Unfortunately, jabberjays continued to mock the Capitol, mating with wild mockingbirds to produce the offspring that would soon become the symbol of the rebellion – The Mockingjay.

Jabberjay Definition

Jabberjays are a type of muttation, i.e. genetically modified creatures created by the Capitol. They were male birds capable of memorizing and reproducing human speech and were therefore widely used during the First Rebellion to spy on the rebels.

History of Jabberjays

Jabberjays were created by Dr. Kay in a laboratory that specialized in muttations. They were male birds that were most likely produced through a combination of reproductive cloning and gene modification. These birds were capable of memorizing human conversations for up to an hour and relaying them back word for word. As such, the jabberjays proved extremely useful in the First Rebellion and were used as spies to record conversations and memorize plans laid amongst the rebels and enemies of the Capitol. However, the rebels caught on to this ability of the jabberjays and used them, in turn, to feed lies to the Capitol.

Once the Capitol realized that the ability of the jabberjays to be used as spies was compromised, they abandoned their use. Towards the end of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Coriolanus Snow and his fellow Peacekeepers are tasked with killing off as many jabberjays as they could in the woods beyond District 12. Dr. Kay was ashamed of having created an experiment that turned out to be the biggest failure of her career and led the expedition to kill off her creation. However, it proved impossible to kill all of the jabberjays in existence. 

It was during this time that Snow made use of a jabberjay to record Sejanus Plinth’s plan of betraying the Capitol, as a result of which Plinth was executed. Snow also witnessed the execution of a man who had been responsible for the death of three workers at the coal mines, where jabberjays continued to repeat the man’s last words long after he was executed. This event would later be captured in the popular song, “The Hanging Tree” which was composed by another witness to the execution, Lucy Gray Baird.

Creation of Jabberjays

The Hunger Games does not go into detail regarding the creation of jabberjays other than the fact that they were created in laboratories during the First Rebellion. Thus, jabberjays were created as genetically modified birds and given the unique ability to record and relay entire human conversations. It is most likely that they were produced using a combination of gene modification and reproductive cloning.

The Muttation Process

Muttations were genetically modified creatures developed in the Capitol for various purposes. The jabberjay is one such muttation that was developed by Dr. Kay in a laboratory to spy on the rebel population. They were probably produced using a combination of reproductive cloning and gene modification. Reproductive cloning involves injecting a replica of the parent DNA into an emptied egg from the same parent.

The egg is then implanted back into the parent which eventually gives birth to a genetically modified offspring. Gene modification, on the other hand, involves receiving a copy of the parent DNA and removing and adding certain sequences to produce the desired results. This is the most likely method that was used to create Jabberjays. Notably, jabberjays were only produced as male birds.


Jabberjays are engineered to possess three states. The first is a “neutral” state where the birds act like any other bird in the wild. The only difference is that, in this state, they would continue to repeat human conversations that they heard at the moment, before moving on to the next conversation. The second state is the “record” state, which was most important for spying on the rebels.

When the birds are placed on record, they fall unnaturally silent as they record the conversation they hear. It is said that jabberjays could record up to one hour of conversations at a time. The third state is the “relay” state, where the jabberjays recite everything they hear, word for word. All three states are achieved through commands that are inaudible to human ears but audible to birds.


Jabberjays are described as black all over with a white crest (a trait which they passed onto their mockingjay children). They also have distinguished white wingtips.

The Death of Jabberjays

After the failure of Coriolanus Snow and the Peacekeepers in killing off the jabberjays, the Capitol hoped that the male jabberjays would eventually die out, and therefore did nothing to put a decisive end to them. As predicted, the jabberjays did go extinct, but not before they bred with female mockingbirds to produce mockingjays. The mockingjays were not capable of memorizing human conversations like their male parents but possessed the unique ability to repeat human music and birdsong. The creation of the mockingjay is seen as a slap in the face to the Capitol, who never intended for these creatures to exist. The mockingjay would later be used as a symbol of resistance in the Second Rebellion.

The Capitol replenished the jabberjay population by the Second Quarter Quell, i.e., the 75th Hunger Games when Katniss Everdeen was called back into the arena a second time. The arena, which was designed like a clock to produce a new horror every hour, featured the cry of the jabberjays in the section between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock. The jabberjays in this section were designed to produce the torturous cries of the tributes’ loved ones, and so Katniss heard the cries of her sister, her mother, Madge, and even Gale’s siblings. Finnick was tortured with Annie Cresta’s voice.

When Katniss becomes worried that her loved ones had been captured and tortured in order for the Jabberjays to reproduce their cries, she is pacified by Beetee and Peeta, who theorize that the voices were taken from the interviews of the family and friends of the final 8 tributes from the previous Hunger Games, and were warped to sound like they were screaming.


Are jabberjays in The Hunger Games real?

Jabberjays in the Hunger Games are not natural creatures. They were created as muttations which are genetically engineered creatures developed in a laboratory to serve the Capitol in various ways.

What is a jabberjay in The Hunger Games?

A jabberjay is a genetically engineered muttation created by the Capitol. The jabberjay is capable of picking up human speech, recording and relaying entire conversations back to the listener.

What is the difference between a jabberjay and a mockingjay?

Jabberjays were created by the Capitol as genetically engineered muttations in order to spy on rebel conversations. Mockingjays, on the other hand, were created as a result of jabberjays and mockingbirds mating with each other. While jabberjays were capable of picking up human speech, mockingjays could only repeat human music, sounds, and birdsong.

How did the jabberjays get their sound?

Jabberjays in The Hunger Games were provided with the ability to record and repeat human conversations. They were given this ability in laboratories that specialized in genetic engineering and the production of muttations.

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