What Do Blue Jays Eat

What Do Blue Jays Eat? Know the Facts

When you’re sitting admiring the view, any view, and you see a blue flash moving swiftly from the trees, you can be sure that the presence of a Blue Jay is gracing your garden. Blue Jays can be seen swooping and landing on bird feeders quite regularly- much to many garden enthusiasts’ delight. But there’s a catch if the Blue Jay doesn’t like the food you’re offering, then you aren’t likely to have him as a regular visitor. So what do Blue Jays eat?

Blue Jays eat seeds, nuts, insects, and sometimes other bird’s eggs. Blue Jays are known for eating a wide variety of food which allows them to adapt and live in many different environments.

Let’s learn more about what Blue Jays eat and their habits.

The High Energy Blue Jay

Blue jay portrait close up in summer green leafs at day

The Blue Jay is a brave bird and a beautiful one too. The Blue Jays’ crest and crown are both striking with a blue-grey color. But aside from the Blue Jays’ beauty, another characteristic makes them a highly sought after bird for the average garden feeder. Blue Jays are notoriously famous for their attitudes and can be seen flying with gusto from the treetops to your garden bird feeders. 

Although Blue Jays are typically located in forests, they can often be found in residential areas as well. This is because they are intelligent birds that can adapt to most environments. Many people in North America will be familiar with Blue Jays, especially with the bird’s highly distinguishable vocal cry, which can be recognized as the typical “Jay! Jay!”.

Although the most distinguishable, the call is only one of many. The Blue Jay is able to vocalize and mimic a wide variety of calls- even a hawk. 

What Do Blue Jays Eat?

A Blue Jays’ diet consists of many different food varieties, including seeds, nuts, insects, and even eggs. However, this egg-eating habits, has earned the Blue Jay a somewhat tarnished reputation. Although they sometimes feast on eggs of other birds (and sometimes nestlings of small birds), the Blue Jay is primarily a vegetarian bird.

Blue Jays, once they have found an area they like, will stick around. So, if you are looking for the right type of food and bird feeders for attracting blue jays; here are our favorites:

Blue Jays love nuts – especially peanuts. Put shelled peanuts on your feeder, and you will be able to watch them as they crack the shell open. Interestingly, you can often see a Blue Jay holding the peanut with its feet while using the beak to crack the shell open. 

Add some sunflower seeds to your feeder. Not only do blue jays love them, but the added show of cracking the shell will help to keep them in plain sight for longer. Mixed seeds often have sunflower seeds and are an excellent way to cater to a variety of species

Blue Jays are often seen collecting acorns as they store them in the ground. Sometimes, Blue Jays cannot collect the acorns, which then helps the more acorns grow into tall oak trees, allowing the forests to spread. 

    What Makes Blue Jays a Favorite for Bird Watchers?

    Blue jays flying or hopping about to take off on spring day in forest habitat

    The Blue Jay is a striking bird that even the most novice of bird watchers can identify. They are brave enough to eat in almost any feeder, tree, or ground. The majority of songbirds that have such striking colors will be shyer.

    With the beautiful Blue Jay, birdwatchers can enjoy the flashing bright blue that the Blue Jay arrives with. Shimmering in the sun, darting from the treetops to the feeders, a Blue Jay is a garden bird watcher’s ideal visitor. Blue Jays are popular because they are:

    • Easily distinguished
    • Strikingly beautiful
    • Intelligent, curious, and lively

    The Blue Jay is filled with gusto, and when they are at a bird feeder, they offer plenty of entertainment. Even in the forests, a birdwatcher can enjoy the Blue Jays’ brave antics.

    However, if you are looking for a timid species that won’t dominate the other birds, then it is not the Blue Jay. The Blue Jay will typically spend their time dominating the birdfeeders, except, of course, until another bird can challenge them with success. The Woodpecker is one of the only birds that can successfully challenge a Blue Jay. 

    Photo by Jack Bulmer

    How to Attract Blue Jays to Your Garden

    Attracting Blue Jays to your garden is quite simple. The first thing to do is to learn more about this interesting bird. As we learn more about a species, we begin to understand what they like, what scares them off, and other characteristics that can help you attract them to your garden.

    There are also specific types of bird feeders that Blue Jays will prefer and specific types of food as well. The following are some tips that can help you get the Blue Jay as a backyard bird in your garden (especially in Illinois). Some Interesting Info About Blue Jays:

    • A Blue Jay has one of the most peculiar and eccentric personalities. They are generally incredibly vocal birds that seem to enjoy singing while perched in the treetops. 
    • Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks are dangerous birds of prey, and they have piercing calls that can fend off other birds of prey or other hawks in the same area. The ingenious Blue Jay can be heard mimicking the cries of these hawks quite often.
    • This is either done to warn other birds to stay away or to warn birds of a possible threat. It could also use the hawk’s call to scare off smaller birds that might be a juicy meal for a Red-tailed or Red-shouldered Hawk.
    • But why would a Blue Jay want to scare off other smaller birds? Possibly to establish dominance in the terrain or to keep the food sources away from potential rivals. It could also likely be used to inhibit other birds of prey from coming too close, which is an intelligent defense tactic if that is why they use the hawk’s cry.

    Blue Jays Store Food Away for Later

    The Blue Jay is a hoarder and has a strong reputation for being like a squirrel in that it will gather as much food as it can find and store the food away. If you have a resident Blue Jay in your garden, you will soon notice how they like to store acorns, seeds, and other nuts in a garden planter or even on your garden lawn.

    Author Note: The Blue Jay will likely be seen coming back to the same place later or day to feed off the gathered supplies. Although Blue Jays are notorious for their outgoing personalities, they became somewhat reserved and almost shy during the breeding season.

    When the mating season arrives, Blue Jays can become intensely private birds that become increasingly hard to spot, and they may even stop frequenting even their most favorite areas. 

    Are Blue Jays Aggressive?

    Although a songbird, the Blue Jay is known for its aggressive nature towards other birds. But this bad reputation is blown out of proportion, and there is some truth to the rumors. When faced with a possible three, the Blue Jay can become aggressive.

    This is particularly true among nesting Blue Jays when they feel that another bird or creature is coming too close to the nesting area. Mob attacks can often happen during the breeding season, and it’s possible that you may stumble too close to nesting Blue Jays.

    You may be on the receiving end of an angry mob of Blue Jays. But don’t panic; simply retreat and walk away. 

    Mobbing Blue Jays are common, especially around breeding season. There are quite a few stories of aggressive blue jays mobbing owls, hawks, and even cats. And yes, unaware hikers can be mobbed too.

    Although seemingly vicious for a bird, the Blue Jay will not generally make contact or intend to strike on purpose, as they are merely establishing dominance and letting you know that you are too close to their vulnerable young. 

    When is Breeding Season?

    Blue Jay sitting on a Tree Branch

    Breeding season for Blue Jays typically begins on the tail end of spring as the summer starts. The Blue Jay will mate in pairs and will nest together. Their nests can usually be found on a flat, thick branch or on a sturdy section where a thick branch grows out of an even thicker trunk.

    Their nests are reminiscent of a bulky cup and are usually made from natural materials like twigs, bark, moss, grass, roots, and leaves. The clever little Blue Jay uses mud, nature’s glue, to hold the nest together. 

    Both male and female birds work together to protect both the nest and the eggs cradled therein. Like many other bird species, the females will remain in the nest with the eggs and then the young while the male takes care of the nesting mom.

    The mother will typically remain with the babies for up to two weeks before both parents begin to search for food for the family. 

    As the nestlings grow, they will have to learn to leave the nest. This fledgling usually occurs after three weeks, and it is around this time that they are ready to begin learning how to fly. Interestingly enough, the family does not dissipate immediately.

    The young and the parents will stay together for several weeks even after the babies have learned to use their wings. The more immature birds will gradually begin to become more independent, but this still doesn’t mean the family breaks up completely.


    Adding a birdbath is a good idea for turning your garden into an oasis for all types of birds, including Blue Jays. Understanding more about these exuberant birds’ habits will help you know how to attract them to your garden. We hope you found this article on what do Blue Jays eat useful!

    Fly high friends!


    Why are some young Blue Jay still with the parents?

    Blue Jays are known to stick together, and the younger birds have been known to stick around for a second brood in the season, helping the parents with the next brood. 

    Do Blue Jays flock?

    Blue Jays can be flocking birds, and this is usually seen once nesting season comes to a close. The closing of the breeding season usually sees Blue Jays coming together in large flocks.

    What does it mean when you see a Blue Jay?

    Seeing a Blue Jay means different things to different people and cultures but generally they are regarded as positive portends representing anything from confidence to strength.

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