Blue Jays are more than just pretty birds with distinctive blue plumage. This highly-intelligent off-shoot of the crow family is an essential component to the fauna and flora of their ecosystem: their love of acorns is linked to the development of oak tree forests across Canada and the US, and their distinctive bird call warns other birds when a predator is near.
Not just another interesting creature in your garden, these characteristically brazen birds have a bit of a reputation for being loud and pushy, often taking over a bird feeder or bath when they’re around. But if you’re looking for non-stop entertainment year-round, you’ll need to supply these feathered friends with several items to meet their basic needs.
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How to attract Blue Jays to your garden?
As with any other type of bird, Blue Jays require some fundamental items to feel safe and welcome:
- a nesting site.
Once you supply them with these must-have essentials, they’ll happily move in as your new backyard neighbors.
#1 Food: what do Blue Jays eat?
These beautiful azure flyers eat a wide variety of foods, and the key to their presence is to appeal to their large appetites. As Blue Jays are bigger than your typical songbird, platform or large tray feeders are ideal. If you’re planning on offering nuts, opt for mesh feeders. Here are their top food picks:
- Nuts (such as shelled almonds, walnuts and roasted peanuts)
- Seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower, though black oil sunflower are their favorite)
- Grains (such as cracked corn, milo and wheat)
- Small fruits
- Berries (such as blackberries, wild grapes, elderberries, and cherries)
Oak and beech trees provide a ready source of nuts, as will pinyon pine trees and other large conifers.
You can, however, make your life a whole lot simpler by purchasing ready-mix, premium wild bird seed like the Wagner’s Greatest Variety Blend. It’s both top-rated and, according to several birdwatching sites, a great way to attract Jays. When shopping around for seed, choose a well-known supplier to ensure the food is truly high-grade.
#2 Water: for drinking and bird baths
Though feeders will certainly attract Blue Jays to your yard, they’ll also need water to drink and bathe, especially if you want them to set up residence near your home. When it comes to water, you’ll need to vital items:
- Fresh drinking water
- A bird bath
Rub-a-dub-dub, get that bird a tub!
As a medium-sized bird, Jays will need a good amount of space to bathe comfortably. As such, you’re better off purchasing a large bird bath so they have ample room to move and splash about. These blue-featured lovelies are such curious creatures, and they enjoy playing in the water with reflective droplets and have lots of fun with splashing noises.
Consider a heated birdbath in the colder months for these year-round residents to allow them to bathe even in the wintertime. Often, Blue Jays travel with their entire family. Larger-sized bird baths also allow bird parents to take a bath with their young.
#3 Shelter: Jays will only visit if they feel safe
No matter the type of bird you’re attempting to attract to your green space, they’ll need a safe, secure location to feed and rest. However, Blue Jays are typically particular about where they choose to visit. Thus, they tend to pick locales that provide ample shelter.
Mature coniferous and deciduous trees are a well-loved by these blue-winged birds as they serve a dual purpose, acting as both sheltering cover and a snack bar. As mentioned before, thanks to their strong, black beaks, Jays can easily open nuts and cones to feast on these foods. Here are a few favorite natural shelters that also present a great place to eat:
- Beech trees
- Oak trees
- Hickory trees
- Fruit trees
- Berry shrubs
- Thicket-like landscaping
More reading: How to Attract Cardinals to Your Yard
#4 Nesting sites: Create the perfect place for a Jay family
Blue Jays will not use birdhouses since they’re not cavity-nesting birds. Instead, they search for the perfect nesting site amid sheltered copses of trees. Encourage these featured friends to take up residence in your garden, yard or green space by providing them with suitable nesting material, such as:
- Grass clippings
- Straw or hay
If you install a large, open nesting platform, more than likely, they’ll be tempted to move into such a welcoming site. When purchasing a nesting platform, ensure that the base is at least 8″ square as Blue Jays need the room to accommodate their bigger-sized nests as well as their growing hatchlings.
Best bird feeders for Blue Jays
Ideally, to make sure your backyard is to their liking, set up two different kinds of Jay-approved birdfeeders. After choosing from the list below, place them in an open area of your yard, away from any other feeders you may have supplied for smaller-sized birds. In doing so, all featured creatures will live happily amid one another. And, of course, keep the feeders clean and filled.
- Tube Feeder: As long as you select a sturdy model for your blue-winged friends, a tube feeder is an excellent, economical way to feed corn and peanuts to Jays. If squirrels love to visit your garden, you can choose a squirrel-proof model.
- Tray or Platform Feeder: Hungry Jays love these kinds of feeders as they provide ample room and an open space. Use this model to feed suet blocks, sunflower seeds, corn, and peanuts.
- Mesh Feeder: As it is a durable, metal construction, these feeders can handle hungry Jays and protect your seed supply while fending off pesky squirrels.
- Hopper Feeders: Most birds eat from hopper-style feeders, and Jays are no exception. These models hold a good amount of seeds, but you may want to portion out a daily ration as Jays may gorge on or horde the seed. One way to solve this issue is to buy a smaller model instead of a larger one.
- Mealworm Feeder: Jays will move in right away if you provide them with insects like mealworms. With their voracious appetite, supplying them with mealworms may get a bit pricey. Therefore, consider using this feeder in the colder months when insects aren’t a food option to minimize costs.
- Suet Feeder: Although you can place suet in a larger feeder, a suet-only option is available. In winter when it’s harder to find high-energy food sources, suet is like manna from heaven. If you do want to offer suet, choose a bigger model feeder, and make sure to pick one that’s extra-sturdy since Blue Jays are a rambunctious bunch of birds.
Or, if you’re feeling a bit crafty, try making a DIY bird feeder!
Follow our tried-and-true advice to add a bunch of blue birds to your yard in no time!