Named after their vibrant blue feathers, the blue jays are one of the most attractive passerine birds of the corvid family, to which crows and ravens also belong. These songbirds are not only known for their attractive appearance but also their diverse calls and songs. In addition to producing a wide range of calls, these birds are also great mimics, often mimicking hawk calls to distract or scare away the other birds.
Like the other corvids, blue jays are also distinguished from other birds due to their intelligence, which helps them search for the best food sources. These birds are the most widespread jay species in North America and are always a welcome sight in the backyard of the birders.
However, attracting blue jays to your yard is not as simple as it sounds. These birds can be quite picky when it comes to choosing an ideal frequenting place for themselves. And if you want them to pick your backyard, you might need to do a little bit of work for it.
In this article, we will talk about different ways in which you can attract blue jays. Stay with us until the end to explore some creative tricks and tips that can lure in these birdies to your yard.
Set up the right bird feeder for blue jays
Although the blue jays are songbirds, they are significantly larger in size in most of the birds that you’d expect to be on your feeder. They have a bill-to-tail length ranging between 10-12 inches, unlike the other passerine birds that have an average size of 3-6 inches.
Moreover, blue jays are not only larger but also heavier, weighing about 2.5-3.5 ounces. When you’re building or purchasing a feeder for them, you should be careful about whether or not it will accommodate their weight and size.
The kind of feeder blue jays like
Blue jays don’t prefer to feed on the traditional house feeders; they would rather feed on a feeder with a large nesting platform. Open tray bird feeders are also an excellent choice for these birdies.
Moreover, blue jays are not fans of hanging feeders and prefer a feeder with a stable base. A pole-mounted bird feeder is, thus, more appealing to them.
Using a suet feeder
For those of you who are unaware of suet, it is a feed that consists of a mixture of animal fat, grains, fruits, peanuts, and at times, dried insects. Following are some of the benefits of using a suet feeder in your backyard:
- It will attract various entertaining birds like blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches to your yard.
- It will keep pesky critters like squirrels away from your feeders.
Suet offers more nutrition to your backyard visitors and is an invaluable food source for them, particularly in colder temperatures. Adding a suet feeder to your backyard will increase the likeliness of blue jays frequenting in your yard considerably.
Proper placement of feeder is equally important
If you’re hoping to attract blue jays to your feeder, building or purchasing the right feeder is only going to do half of your work. The other half relies on how appropriately you’ve placed it. Here are a few things you should consider if you want your feeder to be appropriately placed for the blue jays:
- Blue jays often make several consecutive trips to your feeder, stuffing their mouths (gular pockets) with extra grains to take back to their nests. During the hot, sunny days, these repetitive trips in the sun can make them heat up pretty quickly. Having a sheltered feeder can help them in cooling off.
- Blue jays are very alert and cautious around humans and won’t eat if they spot you nearby, particularly if they’re new visitors to your backyard. Therefore, it would be best not to lurk around the feeder initially, or you might scare them away. Give a little time to get used to your feeder; they probably won’t mind your presence too much once they grow familiar with your yard. But even then, you must respect their privacy.
Offer them their favorite foods
Once you have the perfect feeder for the blue jays in place, it is time to load it up with all their favorites. Suet works great for these birdies, but it is always nice to mix things up a little. There are many other foods that you can put out in the feeders that appeal to them a great deal:
- Peanuts: Blue jays are very fond of peanuts and will eat both shelled and unshelled ones with great interest. They can easily break open the shell of these nuts with their beaks.
- Corn: Corn is another delicious treat for these birds. They can fit at least 10-14 corn kernels into their mouth at once. Put out for them cracked corn, as it can take them quite some time to crack the kernels from the cob on their own.
- Sunflower seeds: Blue jays will never turn down an opportunity to eat sunflower seeds, whether they’re shelled or unshelled. They like both striped as well as black-oil sunflower seeds.
Apart from these foods, these corvids are also fond of cherries, acorn, dogwood, and elder cherries.
Keep the feeder stocked at all times
As we’ve already discussed above, blue jays are among the most intelligent birds that can frequent your yard. They also happen to have a great memory and pay attention to whether your feeder is full or half-filled.
If you wait until your feeder is empty to refill it, it can be quite off-putting for the blue jays as they prefer to frequent feeders that are refilled regularly and have an abundance of food to offer them.
Squirrel-proof their feeders to eliminate competition
It might come as a surprise to many, but critters like squirrels or chipmunks are a far greater competition for blue jays than other, smaller passerines that might be sharing their feeders. It is because once a squirrel finds access to the abundance of seeds and nuts in your feeders, they will keep it all to themselves and might try to ward off the blue jays.
If you have a pole-mounted feeder, you have already reduced the chances of squirrels climbing atop them. Just to be extra cautious, you can also add conical baffles both at the bottom and the top of the pole.
Also, make sure the pole is placed far enough from any tree from which squirrels can jump to the feeder. Adding suet to the feeder will also keep squirrels away, as they’re herbivores and will not eat anything that has meat or insect in it.
Check out our article on: How To Keep Chipmunks Away From Bird Feeders?
Install a birdbath in your yard
Not many of you might know this, but blue jays love being around water and, therefore, often look for yards that have a freshwater source for them. These birds do not only need water for drinking purposes but also love splashing themselves with it and looking at their reflection in it.
Installing a birdbath can work as an added advantage for you when you’re trying to attract blue jays to your yard, as many people see it as unnecessary trouble. While purchasing a birdbath for blue jays, you should always go with a large and wide one as these birds need plenty of space to move around and enjoy themselves.
Moreover, they often visit feeders with their families, particularly during the winter months. If you can invest in a heated birdbath for them, that would be even better for them. Once you’ve installed a birdbath in your yard, make sure you’re changing its water at regular intervals.
Having mature trees in your yard might help
Although blue jays are known to nest in diverse locations, they ideally prefer coniferous and deciduous trees for nesting. Oak woodlands are one of their favorite nesting spots.
If you want these birdies to spend more time in your backyard than simply feeding on your feeders, having a mature deciduous or coniferous tree in your yard can help.
If you don’t have trees, you might want to think about planting one. It’s a slow process, but it will pay off in the long run by not only attracting blue jays (and other birds) but also adding aesthetic beauty and value to your property.
Understanding blue jay’s mating and nesting habits is necessary
If you want to accommodate blue jays in your yard for longer, you should brush up on your knowledge of their mating and nesting habits. These birds mate between March and July; their nest-building process begins at the end of March.
During this time, if you keep a pile of small twigs and sticks handy, it will make their job of looking for them easier. It might also influence them to build their nest in your yard.
Blue jays can be a bit of a bully
Before you move on to invite blue jays into your backyard, you should prepare yourself for their bullying attitude as well. Despite their bright appearance and melodic songs, these birds also tend to become a bully at times.
Once they’ve familiarized themselves in your yard, they can be annoyingly loud all the time. They will come to your feeder in large groups, eat to their heart’s content and fly around, pooping all over the place.
Moreover, a group of them might even drive away any other bird that might want to visit your feeders. If you’re ready for all this, go ahead and welcome them into your backyard.
You might even attract the other jay species!
Although you’re planning to attract blue jays in your yard, wouldn’t it be an added surprise if other jay species also frequent there? Fortunately, if you follow the steps mentioned above, you might spot the following jay species in your feeder as well:
Green Jay (Cyanocorax luxuosus): Green Jays are a species of New World Jay that are found all across Central America. These birds have a black and blue head, a black bill, green wings, bluish-tails, and brown eye-rings, and can easily be found in South Texas.
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica): Found all across California towards Oregon and Washington, the California Scrub-Jay are a scrub-jay species that have a blue head, wings, and tail. Their back is greyish-brown in color, with greyish underparts.
Woodhouse’ Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii): Woodhouse’ Scrub-Jays are widespread in the western parts of the United States. These songbirds are similar to the California Scrub-Jays and have a boisterous nature.
Canada Jay (Perisorius canadensis): Also referred to as “Grey Jay” or “Whisky Jack”, the Canada Jays are the only jay species that do not have any trace of blue in their plumage. These birds are found in the northwestern region of the Rocky Mountains.
Blue jays are a perfect blend of beauty and brains in the avian world. They are a sight to behold and will charm you with their songs in no time. However, there are both pros and cons to inviting these birds into your yard. Are you trying to attract blue jays into your backyard, too? If you are, this article might be helpful to you.