Blue jays are intelligent and colorful birds. They’re also quite entertaining to watch when they congregate around your bird feeders. So, what can you do to attract blue jays to your yard?
To encourage blue jays to visit your yard, you need to ensure that you provide four major elements for them to enjoy. These include food, water, plenty of shelter and suitable nesting sites. If you have all these elements present in your yard, you’re sure to have some noisy blue jay visitors.
To help you set up your yard to welcome lots of visits from both local and visiting blue jays, here are 12 tips. These should get you started on the right track.
- 1 1. Add Nuts To Your Feeders
- 2 2. Leave Some Of Those Fallen Leaves As Mulch Under Any Large Trees
- 3 3. Provide Blue Jay Friendly Feeders
- 4 4. Make Sure You Have Plenty Of Suitable Nesting Sites
- 5 5. Place Your Feeders In Ideal Locations
- 6 6. Install A Birdbath Near Your Feeders
- 7 7. Don’t Disturb The Jays That Visit Your Yard
- 8 8. Lend A Helping Hand During Mating Season
- 9 9. If You Have Space Consider Planting An Oak Or Beech Tree
- 10 10. Make Sure Your Feeders Are Squirrel-Proof
- 11 11. Don’t Use Chemicals To Control Insect Pests In Your Garden
- 12 12. Have Separate Feeders For Smaller Birds
- 13 Frequently Asked Questions:
- 14 Final Thoughts
1. Add Nuts To Your Feeders
It’s no secret that blue jays love nuts. In fact, many of the birds will even collect them and store them away for later just like squirrels do. Therefore, make sure that you add some roasted and unsalted nuts to your feeder.
Blue jays are particularly fond of unshelled peanuts as well as acorns. Another favorite food for blue jays is sunflower seeds. In fact, they’re fond of most seeds and will also appreciate berries and small fruits.
Corn is also a favorite food for blue jays. They will either enjoy cracked corn or the whole kernel.
2. Leave Some Of Those Fallen Leaves As Mulch Under Any Large Trees
If you provide lots of nuts and large seeds for the jays, you’ll probably notice that they’ll gobble up a few and fly a little distance away to the ground under a tree. What the blue jay is doing is looking for a suitable spot to “bury” the nuts for later.
If you have an ample cover of fallen leaves and mulch, the blue jay will happily bury its loot there. But be aware, that many times, the blue jay will have forgotten where it hid its nuts and seeds, so some of them may sprout and grow.
3. Provide Blue Jay Friendly Feeders
Blue jays prefer platform feeders that they can perch on and pick up the seed and nuts from easily. It’s best to mount these on a pole so that they’re completely stable. Jays don’t like hanging feeders that will swing or sway.
It’s also possible to have these platform feeders on the ground but this may leave them too accessible for small animals such as squirrels.
Another popular choice for blue jays are suet feeders. Remember to ensure that the feeders are large enough to accommodate these friendly birds. Blue jays normally weigh 2.5 to 3.5 ounces and are around nine to twelve inches long.
While feeding, blue jays like to hop around the feeder to search for the best morsels of food. So, the larger your feeder, the more jays it can accommodate.
4. Make Sure You Have Plenty Of Suitable Nesting Sites
Blue jays don’t use birdhouses. They prefer to nest in well-established trees that provide plenty of coverage to protect their nests from predators. Both female and male birds will participate in nest building and they prefer to situate these in the crook of a tree.
If you have some large trees in your yard, you can even install some nesting platforms for the birds to use. These should be at least eight inches square. Also, make sure there are plenty of twigs, sticks and grass clippings nearby for the jays to use when they build their nests.
5. Place Your Feeders In Ideal Locations
Ideally, you should place your blue jay feeders near some shrubs or trees to provide a little extra protection for the birds. Blue jays are generally very cautious when they’re feeding and don’t like to be disturbed.
Your feeders should also be in the shade and not exposed to direct sunlight, especially in hot weather.
6. Install A Birdbath Near Your Feeders
Eating a lot of nuts can make a blue jay very thirsty. Therefore, they need clean, clear water to drink. They also like to splash around in the water, especially when the temperature starts to rise.
You can easily install a nice birdbath on a pedestal somewhere near your feeders. This will keep the birds happy during all seasons. During the winter months, you might even like to added some heated water to the bath. Most blue jays will enjoy this.
Remember to keep an eye on the birdbath during winter to ensure that it hasn’t frozen over. If this happens a lot, you can actually purchase heated birdbaths that will stop the water from freezing. If you do this, you’re sure to have some very happy birds in your yard during the icy, cold weather.
7. Don’t Disturb The Jays That Visit Your Yard
Blue jays tend to be very cautious and will not eat if they see humans nearby. Therefore, you should always observe them from a distance.
Be particularly cautious during nesting time because these birds will fiercely protect their young. They may even swoop and dive at you or any dogs or cats that also share your yard.
8. Lend A Helping Hand During Mating Season
Mating season for blue jays is from March to July. These birds are also monogamous which means that they will mate for life. As mating season is approaching, ensure that there are plenty of nesting materials freely available for the jays to use.
9. If You Have Space Consider Planting An Oak Or Beech Tree
Although these trees take many years to grow, they are a favorite with blue jays. The jays love both acorns and beechnuts to eat. They also like nesting in these types of trees.
10. Make Sure Your Feeders Are Squirrel-Proof
Unfortunately, squirrels and other small mammals enjoy the same type of food that blue jays do. Therefore, you want to protect your feeders from these small animals to ensure there’s plenty of food for the jays.
You can either purchase a special squirrel-proof feeder or install a baffle onto the feeder pole. The baffle is installed just below the feeder and stops the squirrels from being able to climb up the pole and onto the feeding platform. These baffles can also be placed just above the feeders.
11. Don’t Use Chemicals To Control Insect Pests In Your Garden
Not only do blue jays love to feast on nuts and seeds but they also like insects as well. In fact, many insects such as caterpillars and grasshoppers, form a large part of the blue jay’s diet.
Therefore, an additional benefit of encouraging blue jays to your garden is that they will help keep down the local insect population that may otherwise decimate your valuable vegetable and flower crops.
12. Have Separate Feeders For Smaller Birds
Unfortunately, blue jays can be a little aggressive and will often chase smaller songbirds away from their feeders. Therefore, if you want to attract different species of birds to your yard, install some smaller feeders away from where the jays are feeding.
This will avoid squabbles and all the birds that visit your garden will be able to feed happily.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What kind of feeder do blue jays like?
Blue jays prefer flat grain and seed feeder but they also like suet feeders.
What colors attract blue jays?
Funnily enough, blue jays are attracted to the color blue. Therefore, if you plants lots of blue flowers, you’ll have a better chance of attracting these birds.
Do blue jays swallow sunflower seeds whole?
No, to eat a sunflower seed, they hold it with their feet and use the tip of their beak to crack the seed. If it looks like a blue jay is swallowing a sunflower seed, it’s actually putting it into its throat pouch to take away and bury for later.
What kind of bird seed do blue jays not like?
Blue jays really don’t like safflower and nyjer seeds.
If you want to attract blue jays to your yard, there are a number of things you can do. First and foremost, ensure that you provide the type of food that they absolutely love. Fill your large platform feeders with nuts, sunflower seeds, corn and maybe some small berries. This will give the birds a feast that they’ll keep coming back for.
Additionally, you want to ensure that there’s plenty of water for them to drink and bathe in. Installing a birdbath on a pedestal near your feeders is ideal for this. You can even provide a heated birdbath during the cold winter months.
You also want to ensure that you have plenty of suitable nesting sites. Especially, if you want to witness your visiting blue jays raising their young. Blue jays love oak and beech trees. So, if you have one of these, you already have an advantage.
Have you done something to specifically attract blue jays to your yard that we haven’t mentioned? We would love to hear about your efforts, so please share them with us in the comments below.