One of my favorite things in life, aside from gardening of course, is attracting wildlife to my garden. Part of the reason I grow a garden isn’t just to feed myself or give myself something pretty to look at, but to also give back to the community of animals that I share this delightful planet with. One of my favorite birds is the blue jay. Let’s talk about how to attract blue jays to our yards.
Blue jays are a large, common blue songbird known for noisy, barking calls, aggressive social behavior, and a love of acorns. They can be found throughout the eastern United States, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest.
Interesting blue jay fact: blue jays are known to mimic the calls of hawks. It’s believed they may do this to warn other blue jays that a hawk is in the area or to scare off competing birds.
How to attract blue jays
Attracting blue jays to your yard is as simple as providing them all of the things they need in order to prosper – food, water, and shelter. But there are some little details in there that you’re going to want to get right in order to bring these boisterous blue birds into your garden.
Provide blue jays a food source
You know what I love? Food. So do most living things. And blue jays are no exception! Blue jays are big birds with big appetites and will appreciate it very much if you put out some of their favorite foods. Blue jays love:
Attracting blue jays to your garden requires giving them the right kind of feeder as well. Blue jays enjoy suet feeders, especially in the winter, and flat platform feeders for all the nuts and seeds. It’s best to place feeders up in a tree away from where people normally walk and spend time.
Keep your cat indoors
Blue jays can be territorial and won’t likely spend a lot of time in an area prowled by an able predator, like a house cat in its prime. Cats can do a real number on local bird populations and are best kept indoors. If you have cats that roam your neighborhood, take steps to discourage them from entering your garden.
Leave mature trees alone
Blue jay fact: these birds won’t use bird houses. They prefer the natural setting of a big, mature tree. Blue jays can be seen nesting in the crotches of trees or in thick shrubs at least six feet off the ground.
Provide a water source
This one’s easy and will likely attract many birds to your yard. Blue jays, like all birds, need water to drink. Blue jays also bathe in water. Putting out a water source for these birds is a good way to keep them coming back to your yard again and again.
Leave them be during mating season
Here’s the reality about blue jays: they don’t really like humans encroaching in their space. When mating season comes along and they set about the work of building nests, do your best to discourage nest building in an area that you frequent.
Blue jays are tough customers, and if they think you’re a threat to them, they’ll give you the business until you leave. Speaking from experience, I’ve about lost a piece of scalp to a grouchy blue jay.
Plant trees that blue jays love
Blue jays get much of their food and of course their shelter from trees, so planting blue jay friendly trees is a good bet for attracting blue jays to your yard. Blue jays are fond of oak and beech trees, since they feed on acorns and beechnuts. This is a longer-term strategy, but if you intend to live in your current home for a few decades, it’ll pay off.
Attracting blue jays can be a blessing and a curse
We’ve touched on it a bit already, but I’ll reiterate: blue jays are, at times, aggressive birds. They often select a small territory and guard it with their lives, and talons, while raising young. If you go near their nests, they will attack you. They’ve also been known to chase off other birds, destroy their nests, and kill their young.
There’s nothing wrong with creating the conditions that blue jays like – it’s important for all creatures to have a shot at thriving. But if you like seeing lots of different birds, encouraging blue jays to take up residence in your garden may not be the best idea.
We hope this guide for how to attract blue jays to your yard and garden produces hours of bird watching fun for you!
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