Irresistible! Attract Blue Jays to Your Feeder

Blue Jay by Imogen Warren

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Greg Gillson

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the charismatic personality of Blue Jays!

If you live east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States or southern Canada, you likely have Blue Jays in your area.

How do you attract blue Jays to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract Blue Jays to your yard.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. Edbo23 from Pixabay.

Why attract Blue Jays to your bird feeder?

Many people love Blue Jays with their beautiful blue plumage and perky crests. Did you know that Blue Jays display their mood with their crests?

Another reason people love Blue Jays is that they are larger and easy to watch. 

And that is interesting because Blue Jays are intelligent and have complex social skills with other members of their close-knit family.

Blue Jays have a wide variety of calls. They can imitate other birds and sometimes even human voices or other noises.

For all these reasons, many people love to see Blue Jays at their feeder.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. Skeeze from Pixabay.

What foods will attract Blue Jays to your feeder?

Blue Jays love peanuts. They love peanut halves, peanut pieces and, especially, whole peanuts! Make sure you feed jays only unsalted peanuts.

They also love tree nuts of all kinds. They are attracted to acorns and beechnuts. They take these nuts and hide them in the ground in fall. Then in winter they go back and dig them up to eat. If it’s a mild winter and they don’t need them all for food, or if they forget where they hid them, they will sprout into new nut trees.

Blue Jays will eat sunflower seeds.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner’s Songbird Supreme. It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn’t have any cheap filler seed that birds won’t eat. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder. Blue Jays will eat the sunflower seeds and most likely leave the smaller seeds for other birds.

And Blue Jays love suet, especially in winter.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks. It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

Jays will also eat fruit and berries. You might try feeding them apple slices and raisins.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. Jack Bulmer from Pixabay.

What kind of feeders do Blue Jays like?

Blue Jays are among the larger birds that visit bird feeders. They like larger feeders with ample shelf space to perch and eat comfortably.

They prefer to eat from larger hopper feeders and platform feeders that accommodate the larger size of jays. This also allows them to come and go easily.

Where to place your bird feeder for Blue Jays

Blue Jays are usually brash and bold. However, sometimes they can be cautious about approaching feeders too close to people or your windows.

For this reason, it is good to place your feeder out away from your home, maybe 15 feet or so.

Blue Jays also make a tempting target for any housecats in the yard. So raise the feeder up 4 feet or higher to keep them safer.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. Alain Audet from Pixabay.

How else can you attract Blue Jays to your yard?

Blue Jays will appreciate larger trees and dense bushes to provide cover and perhaps food.

Oak and beech trees are their favorite. But they will also appreciate walnut trees. 

Apple trees, cherry trees, and similar fruit trees will provide a place of safety and food.

Plant elderberry, huckleberry, and blueberry bushes or create thickets where Blue Jays may build their nest.

Blue Jays love bird baths and fountains. If you can provide such a water feature for them, they will visit even without a bird feeder.

Photo of Blue Jay
Blue Jay. Pilot Brent from Pixabay.

Problems with Blue Jay: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Not everyone loves Blue Jays. 

Jays do tend to be aggressive. They may chase away or attack smaller birds. In spring, Blue Jays search out other bird’s nests to eat eggs or nestlings.

Blue Jays can be noisy and make loud and harsh calls. Some people do not like their calls–especially in early summer when birds start singing and calling early in the morning.

Jays have a gullet. This is an enlargement of the throat. This allows them to gulp down large quantities of food and hold it temporarily. Then they fly off, regurgitate the whole food, and bury it in a cache. They will dig up this cache in winter and eat it when other foods are scarce.

They can hold up to 5 acorns in their gullet. Imagine how many sunflower seeds they can carry away! Back and forth they go in fall, emptying your feeders. A whole family group may come in and empty your feeder in a few minutes!

A tube feeder that has small perches or is made of mesh, with no perches, may slow down Blue Jays at your feeder.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder looks, with it’s copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you’ll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

Blue Jays cannot hang to feed. Thus, to keep jays away from your suet in winter, place the blocks in an upside-down suet feeder.

I bought a Nature’s Way Upside-down suet feeder a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can’t hang upside down to get at the suet.

Wrapping Up

Blue Jays are pretty special birds for a number of reasons! Here are just a few:

Intelligence and Mimicry:

  • They’re considered highly intelligent birds, exhibiting complex social behaviors and tool use in captivity.
  • They’re famous for their impressive vocal mimicry, imitating not just other birds, but even hawks and even human speech! This skill might serve multiple purposes, like warning others of danger or tricking competitors away from food sources.

Appearance and Behavior:

  • Their vibrant blue plumage with bold black and white accents makes them visually striking. Their raised crest adds another layer of expressiveness, reflecting their mood.
  • They’re quite bold and curious birds, often approaching humans out of their own accord. While they can be aggressive at feeders, their antics can be entertaining to observe.

Ecological Role:

  • Their love for acorns plays a crucial role in oak tree dispersal. They cache thousands of acorns each fall, many of which are forgotten and sprout into new oak trees.
  • They act as sentinels for smaller birds, sounding the alarm when they spot predators like hawks, giving others a chance to escape.

Cultural Significance:

  • Blue Jays are the official provincial bird of Ontario, Canada, and the state bird of Missouri, USA.
  • They appear in folklore and mythology, symbolizing communication, intelligence, and adaptability.

Overall, Blue Jays are fascinating creatures that combine beauty, intelligence, and ecological importance. They’re definitely a special addition to our natural world!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when you see a bluejay?

The meaning of seeing a blue jay can vary depending on your perspective and cultural background. Here are some common interpretations:

  • Communication: Blue jays are excellent communicators, so seeing one could be a sign to improve your own communication skills or pay attention to the messages you’re receiving.
  • Intelligence: These birds are known for their cleverness, so it could be a symbol of using your own intellect to solve problems or learn new things.
  • Adaptability: Blue jays can thrive in a variety of environments, making them a symbol of being flexible and adjusting to change.
  • Loyalty: They form strong family bonds and fiercely defend their territory, representing faithfulness and protectiveness.
  • Good luck: In some cultures, blue jays are seen as messengers of good fortune and positive change.

Is a blue jay an aggressive bird?

Yes, blue jays can be considered aggressive birds, particularly towards other birds. This behavior is most often observed in two main contexts:

1. Competition for food:

  • Blue jays are fiercely territorial, especially around bird feeders. They will readily chase away smaller birds to access food sources.
  • They may use various tactics like swooping, squawking, and raising their crests to intimidate competitors.
  • They sometimes even mimic hawk calls to scare other birds away, even though they aren’t a threat themselves.

2. Protecting their young:

  • During nesting season, blue jays become particularly protective of their eggs and chicks. They may attack any perceived threat, including other birds, mammals, or even humans who get too close to their nest.

However, it’s important to note that their aggression isn’t constant:

  • They have social hierarchies within their flocks, and dominant individuals tend to be more aggressive.
  • Their behavior can also vary depending on the food available, the presence of predators, and other environmental factors.
  • They can be quite curious and even tame around humans, especially if offered food.

Is it rare to see a blue jay?

Whether seeing a blue jay is rare depends on your location:

  • North America: If you’re in eastern or central North America, where blue jays are native, they are not rare. They’re actually quite common birds, found in various habitats like woodlands, parks, and even backyards.
  • Western North America: In western North America, their range is more limited, and they are less common. However, they are still not considered rare in most areas.

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