Cyanocitta cristata, or the blue jay, is a crested and large songbird. Blue jays are beneficial to the fauna, and other flora in their ecosystem since their fondness of acorns helps spread oak forests across North America.
You may be wondering: how to attract blue jays to your backyard? No worries. These raucous but beautiful creatures are easy to lure. Here are some effective ways to attract blue jays.
1. Go nuts!
A time-tested way to attract blue jays is to put roasted and unsalted nuts in your bird feeders. These birds love whole peanuts as well as seeds, grains, and corn. Thanks to their strong black bills, they can easily crack acorns and nuts.
While all types of nuts and seeds are great for tempting blue jays, make sure you don’t choose anything too spicy or seasoned heavily. These birds also like berries, small fruits, sunflower seeds, and insets. If you host blue jays in a Beech or Oaktree, they will appreciate the ready source of nuts and thick foliage.
2. Lure blue jays with leaf litter
Blue jays cache their food, nuts, and seeds under leaf litter or in crevices of trees. A blue jay may take a peanut or nut from your front yard feeder and methodically sort through a mass of leaf litter under an oak tree to bury it. But, in many cases, jays forget where they hid the nuts; and hundreds remain to sprout the next spring.
Nevertheless, tempting blue jays with leaf litter is a great idea because these beautiful creatures use leave litter to camouflage their autumn catches, which gives them a perfect reason to revisit your yard throughout the winter season.
3. Install blue jay specific feeders
The most popular type of feeder to attract blue jays is a tray or a platform feeder. Try avoiding hanging feeders that swing or sway because such feeders will not provide any support to blue jays. Rather, opt for ground or pole-mounted feeders offering peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, and suet balls to hungry jays.
Apart from having grain and seed feeders in your yard, you can also have suet feeders to keep these noisy birds happy. As blue jays are large birds, your chosen feeders must accommodate the weight and size of the birds. Adult birds are from 9 inches to 12 inches long and weigh between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces.
4. Encourage nesting in your yard
Typically, blue jays build more than one nest, because if they detect a predator, they will move away immediately. Both parents participate in the nest-building process, with females participating more in construction, and males do more of the gathering.
Since blue jays don’t use birdhouses, they dwell in old and secure trees where they can build a nest. The birds usually build the nest in the crook of a tree, where the female lays up to seven eggs.
If you are lucky to live near the woods or have large trees in their yard that provide them ideal places to nest, you can attract these birds naturally. However, you can also plant some shrubs and native trees in your backyard.
Provide nesting material such as sticks, twigs, and grass clippings to encourage nesting. Blue jays can benefit from large and open nesting platforms, the base of which should be at least 8 inches square.
5. The location of the feeder is the key
The ideal spot to place a feeder is near the shrubbery or a tree where blue jays can sit while they eat from your feeder. These birds are naturally very cautious, so they are unlikely to approach feeders if any humans are lurking nearby.
If you like observing how blue jays behave and use their intelligence while eating, watch from a window and never sit next to the feeder.
Another important tip is to avoid the sun and put the feeder in the shade. The diurnal birds use the daylight hours to make mass quantities of food at a time for hiding it. Make sure you reduce the distance they need to cover for their efforts so they don’t have to spend a lot of time in the heat.
6. Create a ‘blue jay hot tub’
Blue Jays also need water to drink and beat the heat after eating all those peanuts. However, they need fresh water to drink and enjoy splashing around in a big hot tub. Arranging large birdbaths in your yard will attract these birds to move and splash in the water.
As the birds stay in their ranges throughout the year, you can keep a heated birdbath during the winter months. Using larger baths is a great idea because multiple birds, searching for water, can visit your backyard together. Some people like to use a pedestal birdbath, which also adds an elegant look to their landscape.
7. Keep your distance
Again, blue jays are cautious birds and do not eat if there are humans around. They often dive at dogs, cats, and humans because they are extremely territorial. If you get nearby, these birds will show their discomfort by flying close enough. But you don’t have to worry since they will not run into you unless it is an accident.
However, the wisest decision to make is to stay out of the area or limit the time you spend near their nest site, for at least a few days. Be careful and stay alert when you must stand near the newly fledged young. Blue jays will always protect their food territories and their young.
8. Get ready for the mating season
Bluejays are monogamous, which means they mate for life. Keep a pile of twigs and sticks nearby for helping the birds build their nest from March through July, which is the mating and breeding season. This little step will eliminate the hundreds of trips back and forth the blue jays must make for collecting the required materials.
Help them during this phase by placing bird feeders and food for these little creatures to attract more of them to your backyard. You can put some seeds on the ground and install a large bird feeder or a ground feeder to feed hungry jays.
9. Lure jays with the right plants
While this method pays off slowly, you can consider planting some oak trees to tempt blue jays. You can also opt for beech trees since blue jays love feasting on beechnuts. Adding more trees to the yard gives these birds plenty of options to eat, perch, and nest.
Beechnuts and acorns are a critical part of a blue jay’s diet, so both types of trees along with oak trees are great options for alluring these birds. Not only planting these trees will help you attract more blue jays, but they will also add more beauty to your landscape for elevating the value of your property.
10. Squirrel-proof your blue jay feeders
There are several ways to protect your feeders from a squirrel attack. Opt for squirrel proof feeders and choose techniques for making all feeders resistant to squirrels.
Securing feeders will make sure the birds have enough food and do not have to compete with wild squirrels. Installing a baffle is also a great idea to protect your precious feed.
A baffle is a useful tool that you can add to poles or inverted bowls. These accessories encircle the base of the pole to prevent the squirrels from climbing upwards. Baffles deflect all attacks from above when you place them above bird feeders.
11. Let nature take care of pests
Jays are some of the most entertaining birds to visit your backyard. However, they also serve another important function. Blue Jays will never leave your garden or backyard as long as they get a regular supply of food from these areas. A large part of a blue jay’s diet comprises of insects.
However, they also feed on common garden pests such as grasshoppers and caterpillars. You will be happy to note that you do not have to rely on chemical pesticides for pest control as long as you continue welcoming blue jays, all year round.
12. If they become a problem
Blue jays are fun to watch and observe, but they have the potential to become bully birds. They are loud and can poop in and around your garden. The aggressive nature of the birds can make them chase away other birds because they will not share their feeders.
In some cases, jays can eat eggs or kill nestlings — antics like these scare away skittish species. You can scare blue jays away without causing any harm to these birds. If the birds become a problem, allocate a jays-only feeding area so smaller birds enjoy feeders blue jays cannot access.