It’s surprising to me that some people don’t enjoy seeing Blue Jays in their backyard. They think jays are a “bully” bird 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 of a bad-ass.
Also, seeing Blue Jays makes me think of my mom who passed away in 2011. When we first went to the cemetery right after the funeral, I remember sitting there still in shock with my family. I couldn’t help but notice that right above us in the trees were multiple Blue Jays making all sorts of loud sounds and generally having a grand time. Now, whenever I see a jay, I think of my mom, and it makes me smile.
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.
Strategy #1: Use Blue Jay friendly bird feeders.
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 can’t fit 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!
For a LIVE view of my feeders and bird feeding station, click here.
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 an irresistible buffet!
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 a few common foods that jays can’t resist.
Specifically, my three favorite foods that attract Blue Jays include:
- Sunflower seeds: It doesn’t matter whether it’s Black-oil sunflower or striped sunflower, nor whether the sunflower seed is in the shell 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. This is because you could set out a mix of sunflower, peanuts, and corn, but if you put the food into a bird feeder that is too small, the jays can’t fit on the feeder and will just have to eat what falls to the ground.
And if you have a large, platform feeder but don’t fill it with their favorite foods, jays may decide to search for food elsewhere.
Strategy #3: Create a natural habitat in your backyard.
Because of their intelligence and big personality, Blue Jays are one of the most interesting and entertaining species that I enjoy watching in my backyard. It’s fun seeing them at our feeders, but I also like observing them mob invading birds of prey, imitating hawks, and flying back and forth across our swamp. It hasn’t happened yet, but I want them to nest and raise their babies on my property.
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 a jays diet. And in my opinion, both of these tree’s are also beautiful additions to any landscape.
For a complete list of tree’s, 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 backyard. But for varying reasons, not many people decide to provide water for birds in a heated 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, just make sure to offer their favorite foods (sunflower, corn, peanuts) on large and open feeders, provide a consistent water source, and have nearby native tree’s, and you should have no problem attracting these feisty, smart, and beautiful birds!