Blue jays are noisy birds that add a little entertainment to your backyard feeders. They’re fun to watch and handy to have around. But, what do blue jays eat?
A blue jay’s diet consists mainly of nuts, seeds, acorns, small fruits, berries, suet and insects. As you can see, these birds eat a wide variety of foods. But, they do have favorites.
Here are a selection of 8 favorite foods that blue jays will gobble up happily from your feeders. If you provide plenty of these, you’re sure to have many blue jays visiting your garden.
If you want to attract lots of blue jays to your yard, put out some peanuts in their shells. Blue jays absolutely adore these. You can add them to your platform feeders or you can even get a dedicated peanut feeder.
A lot of these feeders have special baffles that deter squirrels or prevent them from getting to the peanuts. Let’s face it, you don’t want to put out a heap of peanuts for the jays and then have them all disappear because the squirrels have visited your feeders overnight.
Make sure that any feeders you get are large enough for blue jays to perch on. The feeder should also be mounted on a pole and not be hanging. This is because blue jays are quite heavy and if the feeder swings when they’re perching on it, it will make them uneasy.
Contrary to this, you can purchase a metal wreath feeder that is very popular with blue jays even though it’s a hanging feeder. The metal spring will easily hold whole peanuts in place but is flexible enough to allow the blue jays to pull the peanuts out. The birds seem to enjoy that extra activity needed to pull the peanuts out of the feeder.
If you put out a dedicated peanut feeder, your visiting jays will always make a beeline for it and leave your seed feeders for the other birds.
Also be aware that blue jays like to cache their nuts to keep them for later. Therefore, you might find a bunch of peanuts buried around your yard or even in your lawn. Make sure you inspect your lawn regularly because you really don’t want peanuts growing there.
Another option is to make sure that the peanuts are roasted as this will inhibit the nuts from sprouting and growing. Of course, the roasted nuts should be unsalted.
2. Black And Striped Sunflower Seeds
It’s no secret that blue jays love sunflower seeds. They’re especially fond of the black ones but will eat striped seeds as well. To crack them, they’ll hold the seed with their feet and then use their sharp beaks.
If you watch closely, you may also witness a blue jay taking up several seeds at once and then flying away. The bird has not swallowed the seed, but rather, is storing it in pouches in its throat. It then flies to a suitable spot under some nearby trees and buries the seed for later.
Unfortunately, blue jays forget where they’ve buried around 70% of their seeds and nuts, so you might have sunflowers coming up in your garden in various spots under trees.
Blue jays love all types of berries including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and elderberries. Therefore, if you want to provide a little treat for your visiting blue jays, you could set up a separate feeder just for berries and fruit.
It’s best not to add these to your seed and nut feeder as their life span is shorter and they will contaminate the seed if left out too long especially on a hot day.
If you grow your own berries, however, you may need to protect these with some bird netting so that you can enjoy some of your fruits as well.
4. Small Fruits
Aside from berries, blue jays will also happily munch on other fruits such as apples, oranges and cherries. If feeding apples and oranges, make sure that you slice them up into manageable pieces for the birds to enjoy.
Corn is quite nutritious for blue jays because it contains both protein and fiber. You can put out either cracked corn or corn kernels. So, mix some corn into the sunflower seeds that you’ve put out for the jays.
Be aware though, that squirrels also love to eat corn. Therefore, make sure that your feeder is squirrel-proof by installing some baffles to make it difficult for the squirrels to get the corn from the feeders.
Interestingly, a blue jay will also eat corn kernels straight from the cob. So, if you grow your own corn, keep aside one or two of the cobs as a treat for your visiting blue jays. Just strip away the husk and silks and put the cob on a feeder tray.
Acorns are a favorite food for blue jays. Plus, they like to nest in oak trees as well. Apart from eating the acorns that they find, the jays will also hide them away for the future. Many of these hidden acorns have been forgotten by the birds and have grown into large oak trees around North America.
Another tree that blue jays favor is the beech. This is because they also love to feast on beechnuts. Therefore, if you have the available space, planting an oak or beech tree will keep all the jays in your area happy and content.
Suet for blue jays consists of a mix of beef fat, peanuts, sunflower seeds and corn. The addition of the beef fat to the mix gives these feisty birds an extra shot of energy. Generally, you can find a suet mix available in blocks. These are ideal to put into special suet feeders that are also squirrel-proof.
This is a great way to provide your jays with additional protein especially during nesting season.
Because insects form a large part of the blue jay’s diet, they absolutely adore mealworms. In fact, a single blue jay can easily eat around 100-150 mealworms every day. These tasty treats are high in protein and are great to put out when the birds are nesting.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I attract blue jays to my feeder?
Make sure you have a platform feeder that a blue jay can sit and hop around on and provide plenty of its favorite food. Also make sure that you have a clean water supply nearby and plenty of shrubs and trees.
What kind of bird seed do blue jays not like?
In general, blue jays do not like safflower or nyjer seeds. In fact, most bully birds don’t like these.
Are blue jays territorial?
Yes, but only to other bird species and also many other animals when they’re nesting. On the other hand, groups of blue jays will happily share the same territory and feeders.
Are blue jays good to have around?
They are indeed. Not only do they provide plenty of entertainment with their antics but they also help to control the insect population. Plus, their raucous calls warn other birds about predators approaching.
Do blue jays eat mice?
Because blue jays are omnivorous, they will indeed eat mice, fish and other small mammals. They’ll even eat small lizards and the carrion of other dead birds. These birds have a very varied diet and will eat what is available.
Blue jays are bright, noisy and intelligent birds. They’re also fun to watch when they come to your feeders. However, if you want to attract them to your yard and keep them coming back, you’ll have to ensure that you provide them with plenty of their favorite food.
Blue jays are particularly fond of peanuts and sunflower seeds. They also love acorns, beechnuts and corn. Another part of their diet includes all types of berries and other small fruits such as cherries and apples.
But, around 30% of their diet consists of insects and yes, even other meat such as small mammals and other birds. They are particularly fond of mealworms and also love a suet mix that also contains corn, peanuts and sunflower seeds.
As you can see, blue jays have a varied diet and will eat whatever food is available depending on the season. In the spring and summer, there are plenty of insects and berries around to keep the birds well fed. Therefore, you don’t need to put out as much food for them as you would in the winter time.
During the colder weather, the blue jays that inhabit your areas will definitely appreciate a decent platform feeder filled with peanuts, corn and sunflower seeds. If you have access to mealworms, these will provide additional protein to keep your visiting jays happy.
Have you discovered any other food that blue jays absolutely love? Please feel free to share any other tips you have with us in the comments below.