Despite their name, wild blue jays are actually gray. Their blue plumage is revealed only when the bird is about to fly, and then it’s the result of light rays and not the pigmentation of the feathers as some may think.
Blue jays eat a variety of foods and symbolize health. In Canada and United States they are even considered as a national bird.
Often confused with crows however, blue jays are smaller in size, and are favorite of many because of their attractive blue wings and treedome habitat. Blue jays live in tall trees in the center of a group of trees. They nest in cavities in these trees and lay between 3 to 6 eggs that take about two weeks to hatch.
Blue jays return to locations within a few miles of where they were hatched and stay within their birth territory for most of their lives. These birds also choose a mate and mate for life. In the wild, they have a lifespan of about 10 years.
Like many other birds, blue jays have a high-pitched, rising-and-falling, peeping-type song. Male birds create several varieties of calls heard all year long, such as a soft, high-pitched chatter. The majority of calls are heard during courtship.
Competitive calls are also used to challenge other males in their territory. In the cooler months, calls are often territorial.
Lure blue jays with leaf litter
Pine needles and nuts.
Using leaf litter, pine needles and nuts to attract blue jays is pretty popular with bird watchers, as is providing fruit. These foods are not difficult to source… if you find a bird bakery.
Blue jays are attracted to acorns, nuts and seeds. They like fat, too, with scrambled eggs, nuts and fat cakes all well received. Blue jays like suet, peanuts, pecans, nuts and sunflower seeds. They also consume corn, cornmeal, grits, popcorn, cornbread, cheese, crumbs of bread, tender twigs from trees, cherries, blackberries, apples, plums, pears, peaches, cherries, and grapes.
Grains such as corn, wheat and oats and seeds of wheat, oats, and rye are also taken. Additionally, the seeds of peas and beans are taken. Blue jays like earthworms, larvae, and insects such as crickets, beetles, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, grasshoppers, beetles, bugs, flies and ants. Blue jays are attracted to sunflower seed, nuts, and fat, such as peanut butter, bacon fat and beef tallow, tossed to them.
Install blue jay specific feeders
If you are not ready to dedicate a lot of time to attracting blue jays to your yard, you might want to consider installing a combination nyjer and sunflower seed feeder.
These are specially designed feeders that are sure to attract blue jays. Scatter feeders are another great option you can install for blue jays. They do not require a specific feeder, since they can be used just about anywhere.
Another good thing about scatter-type feeders is they are mess-free.
If you have cats or other small animals in your yard, you are aware that you often have to clean up after them as well.
Even if you do not have animals, the fact remains that sometimes, you will have to clean up your feeders.
The special design of scatter-type feeders makes it easier for you to clean.
The home birdseed stores are stocked with several kinds of feeders that you can consider as blue jay feeders. Some of them can hold seeds and others can hold fruit and even meat.
If you are not in the mood to build your own, you will find a number of ready-made feeders you can purchase in these stores.
However, it is good to know that if you are a bird-lover, you can build your own blue jay feeder by following the instructions or using the guides provided by these stores.
Encourage nesting in your yard
For starters make your yard a haven for nesting. Blue jays love to live in natural surroundings. You can encourage them to nest in your yard by providing nooks and crannies, such as a stump or a thick tree branch.
Next, for bird feeders, pick a high-quality model that comes with a jay-proof sturdy platform. The bird feeder should be suspended 15-20 feet up in the air. Make sure it has a metal rim to avoid squirrels and raccoons from tipping it over.
Lastly, make sure you have a water source nearby. The blue jay’s downfall is water! In summer, they need fresh water. Without it, a blue jay may not build its nest in your yard.
The location of the feeder is the key
Blue jays are intelligent bird, so they have an innate fear of anything new. Like you and me, they don’t like things to be unpredictable. When they first see a new feeder placed in the yard, they are scared to approach it.
So the trick is to put the feeder in mothballs for a while. By that I mean it should be placed in the yard but its feeder should be empty for a few days before you actually put food in it.
This will help you avoid any initial scare. Also, new feeders make great homes for squirrel in the beginning while they are testing it out.
The feeder should be placed in a slightly elevated position to avoid the risk of flooding. You can place it on a picnic table, a lawn table, wooden planks or just on its own if you have a raised platform in the yard.
Also, place the feeder away from any other perch like the branches of a tree. The top of a tree trunk is also not the best place because if you have a squirrel problem, you have to be careful not to disturb the squirrels that are living there.
The feeder should be about 10 feet away from the nearest tree trunk.
The poles that support the feeder should be sufficient in strength to hold the weight of the feeder.
Select a wide open place near the tree trunk.
Create a ‘blue jay hot tub’
Blue jays are always on the lookout for a good bath. They love to preen themselves and their mates, including their breasts and feathers all around the body.
You don’t need to own a bathtub for your blue jay “just” add some piles of stones or wood onto which the blue jay can perch. Remember that sitting on twigs is a matter of security for blue jays.
Keep your distance
If you want to effectively attract blue jays, you need to understand that they are lower-level predators than hawks, owls, and eagles. They’ve evolved from being small, timid, and insect-eating birds into bold and fearless creatures that can intimidate other birds (and humans).
So, if you’re working on a trail or in a wooded area when you notice some blue jays in the distance, be very careful. These evasive and nervous birds will not come close to you if you startle them.
If you spot them, move away quietly and wait for them to fly off to some other part of the region to continue with their daily business. The best way to figure out the ideal distance when you encounter jays is to check out their body language.
If they are getting defensive and are constantly moving their heads up and down, they are trying to get a better view of you. When you notice the jays do this, move back slowly while turning your sights in another direction.
Get ready for the mating season
The first thing you should do before trying to attract blue jays to your yard is to simply get ready for the mating season. Both blue jays, jays and their close relatives, Carolina jays, begin to prepare for the mating season when the weather in your area begins to get warmer.
Lure jays with the right plants
Bringing blue jays to your yard isn’t hard or expensive, but it does take a little time and some forethought.
If you already have a bird feeder, chances are you’ve already attracted a few jays. Some of the most important steps are making sure your yard is hospitable to jays, and building a bird feeder to keep them coming back.
Blue jays are omnivores, so they eat everything from peanuts to nuts, seeds and even insects.
Check out this list of blue jay’s favorite bird feeders, plants and other items and incorporate a few of them into your yard. A few of these items are the same items birds love and will help attract various other species of birds like chickadees, titmice, finches and warblers.
These are some of the best ways to attract blue jays to your yard:
Plant blue jay-friendly trees
Blue jays love oaks, willow and birch trees. Oaks in particular provide a lot of food for jays in the form of acorns and larvae.
Adult jays also rely on oak trees for shelter and roosting.
Make your yard bird friendly
Squirrel-proof your blue jay feeders
The best squirrel proof feeders are the tube feeders because they are high enough so that squirrels can’t sit on top of them. However, squirrels can still get to them if they climb on a tree limb and jump from a branch.
While the squirrel may do a few somersaults in the air before landing on the feeder, it can be annoying if they do this a number of times. If they repeatedly do this, they can quickly empty out your feeder before your birds get a chance to visit.
The squirrel proof feeders with discs or blue decals can help reduce but not eliminate this behavior.
The constant wide-ranging motion of the birds as they look for food seems to help too.
Let nature take care of pests
Blue jays are perennially known for attacking anything that crawls. They have a reputation/association for attacking and gobbling up frogs and young birds. But little is known about their general relationship with predatory birds or whether any of them have a preference for any specific kind of prey.
What we do know is that blue jays have a history of attacking almost all kinds of small animals. It’s usually harder to identify exactly which types of animals are on the menu for the blue jay. (I’ve even read reports that wild blue jays have been known to attack both live and dead baby humans!)
That can make it tricky to figure out where to draw the line on how much attention to pay to protecting a certain type of prey animal. In an ideal world, all animals would adapt to the environment as a matter of course. Some prey animals are harder to protect when you have to factor in more than just the immediate impact of lost crop.
In fact, some predatory animals are actively welcome in agriculture because of their prowess at keeping vermin numbers down.
If they become a problem
In some places, blue jays, like many other birds, have grown increasingly hostile and a nuisance as they compete for the same food sources as the people who see them as a threat to their own survival.
One remedy for this is the blue jay ladder. This is a ladder which is attached to the outside of a blue jay’s regular roost, which allows them to climb to the top without harm.
Where bird feeders are concerned, there are a few things to try. First of all, those who have observed jays in their yards have noticed that if you have multiple feeders, it is possible to get them to rotate from feeder to feeder.
In addition, certain kinds of feeders can be put in place that help repel the birds without harming them.
In other cases, however, things can get pretty rough, such as the time when one family took to putting laundry detergent out to get rid of the blue jays that were eating the seeds of their bird feeders.
In areas where the blue jays become a nuisance, it is important to try to maintain a happy medium between your needs and theirs.
Which of these tips were new to you?
- Blue Jays are attracted to the smell of bruised apples.
- Blue Jays love to eat suet for protein.
- Blue Jays love peanut butter.
- Blue Jays love bamboo, so plant it in your garden.
- Blue Jays like to eat grapes.
- Blue Jays love thistle.
- Cut up oranges and hang them out for the Blue Jays.
- Always put out your suet feeder in the same spot.
- Jewelweed seeds as a natural remedy for intestinal worms (Turkey may die, but you will help build habitat for wild birds).
- Blue Jays love it that you still have late summer and fall berries to eat.
- Hibernate all food attractants from October to spring.
- Dangle jewelweed or other winter branches where Blue Jays can eat them.
- We haven’t had much luck, but blue jays seem to like the sound of wind chimes.