4 SIMPLE Strategies That Attract BLUE JAYS! (2023)
It’s surprising to me that some people don’t enjoy seeing Blue Jays in their backyard. They think they are “bullies” and are too noisy, aggressive, and messy. I could not disagree more.
I love attracting Blue Jays to my yard!
They are one of my favorite birds to watch because of their array of vocalizations (did you know jays imitate hawks?), intelligence, beauty, and overall temperament. Anyways, if you don’t like Blue Jays, this is probably not the post for you. 🙂
Over the next 10 minutes, I am going to share with you four different strategies you can implement to attract Blue Jays to your backyard.
How To Attract Blue Jays:
Strategy #1: Find bird feeders that Blue Jays can use.
Blue Jays are substantially larger when compared to most other songbirds that visit your feeders. From bill to tail, Adult Blue Jays range in size from 9 inches to 12 inches long. Their weight is typically between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces.
For comparison, Black-capped Chickadees average 5 inches in length and weigh about half an ounce. Goldfinches are similar in size and weight to chickadees. Northern Cardinals are lucky to be 9 inches long and typically weigh nearly half the amount of a Blue Jay.
These facts are important when considering the type of bird feeders you hang in your backyard. If you want to attract Blue Jays, you need to make sure you have at least one feeder that is large enough to appeal to them.
Many bird feeders are designed to only appeal to the more popular, smaller songbirds. Tube feeders are a great example. Blue Jays have a hard time fitting their bodies onto the smaller perches to feed!
Blue Jays prefer feeders that provide large, open surfaces.
They like having the ability to move and jump around, searching for the best pieces of food to take with them.
For example, the bird feeder I own that attracts Blue Jays the best is my tray feeder. I have the feeder sitting on the ground, but it’s versatile and can also be hung or permanently mounted to a pole. View the video below to see my tray feeder (made by Woodlink) feeding Blue Jays!
Woodlink 3 in 1 Tray Feeder View Today's Price
Other feeders that work well at attracting jays are certain hopper feeders, platform feeders, and peanut feeders. If all else fails, just throw food on the ground! Trust me; the jays won’t mind. 🙂
Strategy #2: Offer Blue Jays their favorite foods!
Now that you have a bird feeder that Blue Jays will use, it’s time to fill it with their favorite foods!
In the wild, Blue Jays eat a variety of foods. The list includes nuts and seeds (especially acorns), fruits, invertebrates, and occasionally nestlings and eggs.
But at your feeders, there are a few common foods that jays can’t resist.
My three favorite foods that attract Blue Jays include:
- Sunflower seeds: It doesn’t matter whether it’s black-oil sunflower (A) or striped sunflower (B), nor whether the sunflower seed is in the shell (C) or out. Blue Jays love eating sunflower! View $ on Amazon
- Peanuts: Jays eat peanuts both in the shell and out. In fact, they are one of the few birds that can crack open a hard peanut shell. It’s a lot of fun to watch Blue Jays come to my feeding station and fly off with a mouthful.
- Corn: Jays will eat cracked corn or the whole kernel. I’d love to know how many kernels they can fit in their mouth and throat sac. I’ve counted a single bird take at least ten at one time!
I hope it’s evident that to attract Blue Jays, you are going to need to combine Strategy #1 and #2. For example, if you set out a mix of sunflower, peanuts, and corn, but you put the food into a bird feeder that is too small, the jays can’t fit on the feeder and won’t be able to eat anything.
Strategy #3: Create a natural habitat in your yard.
Because of their intelligence and big personality, Blue Jays are one of the most interesting and entertaining species that I enjoy watching. It’s fun seeing them at our feeders, but I also like observing them mobbing birds of prey, imitating hawks, and flying back and forth across our swamp.
If you want Blue Jays attracted to your yard for reasons other than the food you provide, then you need to create a habitat they WANT to visit.
Blue Jays are naturally forest birds, and large trees provide them shelter and places to nest. If you are not lucky enough to live near the woods, then I’d recommend planting some native trees and shrubs in your backyard.
Planting oak or beech trees is a great way to attract Blue Jays.
This is because acorns and beechnuts are an essential part of their diet. And in my opinion, both of these trees are also beautiful additions to any landscape.
For a complete list of trees, shrubs, and other plants that are native to your area and attract Blue Jays, check out the below search tool from the National Audubon Society:
Strategy #4: Provide water all year long!
Lots of people hang up bird feeders in their yards. But for varying reasons, not many people decide to provide water for birds in a bird bath. And those that do typically don’t keep the water fresh or clean.
This is unfortunate. 🙁
Blue Jays need fresh water to drink daily and love splashing around in a bird bath. Seriously, finding water is a matter of life and death for birds, especially when the weather drops below freezing and many natural water sources are frozen.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
I think Blue Jays can get a bad reputation as a “bully” bird. It’s true they can scare away other birds at the feeder, but typically they eat peacefully alongside everyone else.
As I plan out the foods and feeders that I use at my bird feeding station, I make sure to think about how to attract Blue Jays. They will always be one of my favorite birds!
To summarize the best ways to attract Blue Jays to your backyard, make sure to offer their favorite foods (sunflower, corn, peanuts) on large and open feeders, provide a consistent water source, and have nearby native trees. If you follow these tips, you should have no problem attracting these feisty, smart, and beautiful birds!
What tips do you have for attracting Blue Jays?
I have a cookie tin that I screwed to the top of the thick cut-off tree trunk of a maple tree that held my other birdfeeders. I took the tin, drilled holes in it, and screwed it into the top. Unfortunately, it still wiggled and shook some jays off during a strong wind. So, now it’s on the ground under the tree and it feed happy jays. We don’t have blue jays, instead, we have scrub jays and steller’s jays. I provide a fence-mounted bath, a tray feeder, pumpkin and sunflower seed, and a natural habitat. Thanks!
Blue jays are real characters! From extending their gullet to take on a whole peanut to waiting in my trees until they see me head for my house! Get the Alfred Hitchcock kind of “hair rising on your neck” the movie The Birds brings. I also think their aggressive behavior has rubbed off on my cardinals! I’ve seen them meet the jays mid air, some fluttering of wings then fly off. Squirrels, opossum, and raccoons have all been given my address! Lol
Thank you, Scott, for all the great information and tips you give us. I love knowing more and more about the little creatures in my back yard. (I’m in southern Alabama.)
I’ve always liked Blue Jays — they are beautiful — and only recently discovered they like peanuts.
My bird feeder is a cylinder with a hood, so the squirrels were not happy campers. But I love them, too. So….
I leave sunflower seeds on the ground for the squirrels (even named one) and a generous sprinkling of wild bird seed on the ground for the doves, jays and any others who stop by for lunch but too big for the feeder perches. I also leave a handful of peanuts (in the shell) for what I thought was a treat for the squirrels. That’s how I discovered the blue jays like peanuts.
Aside: A friend told me raccoons (a former feeder fiend here) and squirrels hate safflower seeds. Since I’ve mixed the feeder seed with a helping of safflower seeds, I haven’t seen the raccoon OR the possum that started making nighttime visits, too. And the squirrels are happy with their daily treat.
Everybody won. Including me. 🙂
I, too, have witnessed a ‘flock’ of Blue Jays at my feeder. I don’t know where they all came from, nor where they all went, but it was quite the sight. I typically have 6-8 regulars that just hang out waiting for me to put out the daily ration! The Jays are much more tolerant of my presence than most others. Only the mockingbird is more tolerant (he’ll sit of the edge of the feeder and watch me spread the feed).
Love Blue Jays Watched one pick up 6 shelled peanuts & fly off with them to eat & bury for later They are fun to watch
& those hawk cries are something else Hear that you Squirrels ? One red tailed hawk did &perched in the back yard for a while Did not see a squirrel for week & a half Ha Ha
Hello Fellow Blue Jay Lover!
All suggestions you present work! I do use them all and have done so throughout the years.
This past fall I witnessed something I have NEVER seen before; Blue Jays en masse (I counted and filmed 16 plus) feeding in my feeder and alighting on the lawn to feed on seeds knocked out of it.
Have you known of these birds traveling in a flock?
My yard normally attracts 2 – 4 at a time. Nothing like this!
Hi, I am in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I put out peanuts in the shell for the blue jays. If they eat them all, they will sit in the tree and “yell” at me. They fly to a tree and watch until I put some out and go back inside. I can hear them with the windows and doors all closed 😀. Sometimes I will put peanuts on the table or deck just to see how close they will come to the door. We put a slinky around the pole that the feeder is on and the squirrels will sit on the rail and stand up but we have never seen one try to get to the feeder. It would be funny to watch if they tried but we have never seen it.
All those foods that the Blue Jays like also attract the crows / black birds so if there’s any kind of food that will attract the Blue Jays but not the crows I would love to know. Thank you.
Blue Jays are so beautiful!! I recently moved to my first home and one of my first tasks was to build a bird feeder, in hopes of attracting mainly Blue Jays!! They remind me of my mom too!!! We live in Toronto and she was the Toronto Blue Jays #1 Fan and when we would see any Jays in our yard, she was sure it was a sign the team was going to have a good year. 😁
I’ve made a platform feeder outside my bedroom window and have had about 3 jays come in the last week. But as soon as they see me inside, they fly off. But I just want to watch them!! Everyone says they’ll get used to me being there and eventually stay longer?
I’d like to put some platform feeders in my backyard but don’t want to attract any squirrels or worse, mice or rats since we live near a field. Any tips?
Unfortunately, it’s hard to feed birds without the squirrels noticing. Try reading this article for some tips: https://birdwatchinghq.com/squirrels-off-bird-feeders/
Big Boy, the only Blue Jay that we have seen in six months, is a perfect gentleman. He seems quite shy, as well, by taking a peanut and flying away. Only once have we seen him actually standing in one of our larger flat feeders and enjoying the sunflower seeds. He seems like a Happy Camper! And he certain makes us happy. Some of the finches seem a bit grumpy at times.
In my situation (and that is all I can speak to), if anything, the cardinals are more aggressive than the Jays! It is not unusual for there to be six or more Blue Jays feeding along side the dozen or more Cardinals that frequent my feeder. They flit in and out, the Jays grabbing a peanut while the Cardinals feast on the sunflower seeds. Sometimes a Cardinal will ‘rush’ a Jay if he/she is too close, but that is not the norm. I enjoy watching them all together.
Hi Bruce , quick question , was wondering if they leave the cardinals alone , i was considering atttacting them to the yard but afraid they will scare off the cardinals that have made our backyard their permanent home
The cayenne pepper tip is good to know. I do not like the idea of squirrels getting into the feed (for the acorns I’m sure) or scaring/harming the birds. I may use it but I want to make sure it does no harm to the birds. Thanks!
Hi, I live in San Antonio, Texas and my obsession with blue jays started last summer. We found an injured blue jay and took it in for a few days before surrendering to our local animal rehab place. Initially, we let him outside and blue jay mom and dad would come feed it. Unfortunately he was not able to fly and we could not possibly help. We want to believe he was rehabilitated and is out there somewhere.
Thank you for the tips, and blog and I really enjoy watching the live feeders.
I LOVE the Blue Jays! They are so beautiful & I like that they announce their arrival! I have a smaller open feeder where I put peanuts. They sit on the little edge & eat the nuts. I was sad because one of the two was killed by either a stray cat or a hawk. I just had the one here for the last couple of weeks but today a 2nd one showed up. That made me very happy! I love reading your emails! Thanks for all of the tips & information, Scott!
I live in SE Kentucky and have several Blue Jays that visit my feeder year round. I find them to be among the LEAST aggressive birds. Amazingly, the mourning doves and Mockingbirds are the most aggressive and chase away all the others from time to time. I insure the feed I buy has the black-oil sunflower seeds and peanuts. The jays always come quickly when I put out the daily ration, as do the cardinals. I think they sit and wait for me and want to have first choice of the goodies!
I put cayenne pepper (in the spice aisle) right in the birdseed. The squirrels hate it and it doesn’t phase the birds at all. They love it. :))
I got a tip to use Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce. It’s a very hot, spicy oil. You mix it into the seeds. Birds don’t have the ability to detect spiciness and are not harmed, but the squirrels hate it. It’s worked like a charm for me and the blue jays showed up right away!
You’re awesome Pete! 🙏🏻🐦
Our blues get along with cardinals, woodpecker and our squirrels. They all know they have food and water here and they share with no problem. We leave out peanuts for them, all kinds of raw nuts for squirrels, sunflower seeds for everyone and fruits/veggies also. Our backyard is one big happy family!
My wife and I had recently been setting up our backyard for bird watching and had a lot of issues with european starlings at first.
After being told to just kill them because they are an invasive, nuisance species and being terrified at the idea I did a lot of research and solved the problem by buying one weighted feeder that we put the small cracked food in. Then got larger uncracked feed like sunflowers peanuts and whole kernal corn.
Within a day the starlings gave up and have not been back since.
Another major positive side effect was that the new feed started attracting tons of beautiful Bluejays and other birds from the bird reserve/wetlands next door to our house.
I am a photography hobbies and my favorite subject is birds of all kinds. It has been amazing watching the huge variety of birds that feed here every day.
I’m another Minnesota birdwatcher who wants blue jays (I can hear them, but they don’t visit my yard). I have a manageable squirrel population but the options above all seem too inviting for them to bring all their buddies. Please address this or tell us you have found a haven sans squirrels!
Thank you for your generosity sharing all these very useful details.
Enjoyed your articles! I live in the city and have seen cardinals, red crested woodpeckers, gold finches, sparrows, wrens, and blue jays. I’d love to put out a tray on the ground for them bc they are gorgeous! Like the other commentator, how do you prevent squirrels from eating all their food? Here in Minneapolis, there are tons of squirrels. Please help! Thank you!
What are your suggestions to keep squirrels from eating all these goodies?
Hi. Chiming in two years later. Just wanted share I felt like I was reading my journal when you describe what blue Jay’s represent for you. Very special bird indeed!
i tamed a wild blue jay. It lets me touch him and examine him
Thank you for the information! I love blue jays and certainly want to attract them to my yard. I will follow your advice and am very grateful to you for taking time to assist other jay lovers!
¹Thank you for the information. By accident we ended up establishing a flat feeder to defeat the raccoons who constantly destroyed our other types of bird feeders. We now have flocks of Jay’s, cardinals, black capped , woodpeckers, nuthatches and other birds
Hello blue jay lovers , I have found out that blue jays love oatmeal , I put a pile of instant Quaker oatmeal on a platform birdfeeder and they love it , and the flavored instant oatmeal
Hi Denise, thank you for taking the time to help us Blue Jay lovers at loving them the way that they wanna be loved. My story is that I too have recently lost someone very special to me. I have been so distraught that I’ve been camping out in my driveway for the past two months. It just so happens that I’m also underneath a tree and my neighbors above are a gorgeous pair of Blue Jays and their nestlings. I am learning so much as a 24 hour a day observer and the process is helping me to heal. I have plenty of interesting stories if anyone wants to hear. Thanks much! Pete.
Thanks for sharing Pete. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like we each have a lot of stories about the Blue Jays, very interesting birds!
Hi there! Just found your live feeder and blogs, very nice! I currently have camera’s (logi circle 2’s) set up in my yard for my private viewing pleasure (birds, deer, and other wildlife). If the camera is a foot away it picks up a nice image of birds, but I can’t really view the group of feeder like your camera is. Can you tell me how far away your camera is positioned from your feeders?
Thank you again for the blog and live feeders, I enjoy them!