4 SIMPLE Strategies That Attract BLUE JAYS! (2024)

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!

how to attract blue jays

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.

attracting blue jays to bird feeders

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!   

YouTube video

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 for attracting cardinals

  • 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.

attract blue jays

  • 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.

attracting blue jays with native plants

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!

attracting blue jays with water

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?

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37 Comments

  1. A local wildlife rescue spoke about recently how heated bird baths are deadly for birds in our harsh winters(Canadian prairies). Just FYI

  2. We have a peanut ring feeder which the Blue Jay’s empty daily. I’ve counted at least 5 pair of them. Our station is close to a wooded area and they wait patiently for their turn on the feeder. We have at least the same number of Cardinals so when they are all in the trees it is so colorful! I was very surprised at your article that the Jay’s are twice the weight of the Cardinals. They look to be about the same size.

  3. I find my jays get bullied by cardinals, doves, grackles. Great to watch them, I hear them yell in the morning for their feed. Love them. Smart bird. We raised a rescue Jay, how amazing they are, it’s a female and come spring, she sings the most beautiful songs that most bird watchers will never experience. She has mimicked our locating whistle that wild jays don’t do. Amazing creations by God.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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. 🙂

  7. 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).

  8. 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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.