How to Attract Blue Jays (Top Feeding and Shelter Tips)

To successfully attract blue jays, you’ll need to provide an environment that caters to their favorite foods, as well as provide appropriate nesting spots and water sources.

Fortunately, in this article we’re going to show you how to do just that.

Read on!

Key Takeaways

  • Provide a variety of blue jay favorite foods and suitable feeders
  • Create a welcoming environment with appropriate trees, plants, and water sources
  • Understand blue jay behavior for a more successful backyard haven

How to Attract Blue Jays

blue jay bird on a branch in a tree

Trying to attract blue jays to your yard?

To successfully entice them, here are the basic guidelines to master.

  • Food: First, offer a variety of their favorite foods. Blue jays mostly enjoy a diet consisting of nuts, seeds, and grains. Placing roasted, unsalted peanuts in your bird feeders can quickly draw these birds to your yard. Corn, sunflower seeds, and other similar foods are also well-loved by blue jays.
  • Feeders: Next, having a dedicated blue jay feeder can be an effective way to lure these birds. You can find various feeders online or in retail stores, but make sure they are durable and easy to clean. Blue jays prefer feeders that are large and sturdy enough for them to perch comfortably.
  • Water: Don’t forget about the importance of water. Blue jays, like all birds, need fresh water to drink and bathe. Place a bird bath or shallow basin in your yard with clean, fresh water that gets replenished regularly. During winter, a heated birdbath can be a game-changer for attracting these birds.
  • Shrubs: Adding berry-bearing shrubs to your landscaping can also help attract blue jays. These natural food sources can serve as both nourishment and shelter for the birds. Moreover, scattering grass and leaf litter around your yard can give them a place to forage and make them feel more at home.
  • Yard: Lastly, try to keep the environment in your yard as natural as possible. Maintain a balance between open spaces and dense foliage, as blue jays appreciate a mix of areas for foraging, nesting, and seeking shelter from predators. A well-rounded habitat will help encourage these magnificent birds to make frequent visits.

Read Next: What Do Blue Jay Birds Eat?

Blue Jays’ Habitat Preferences

  • Trees: Blue jays often prefer environments with plenty of trees, providing them with shelter and security. They are particularly fond of oak and beech trees as these trees provide them with a steady supply of their favorite food, acorns and nuts.
  • Woods vs. cities: In addition, blue jays are commonly found in well-wooded suburban areas and city parks, where they can enjoy a mix of natural vegetation and human-made structures.
  • Sunlight and shade: When it comes to sun, blue jays don’t have a strong preference for full or partial sunlight as long as they have access to suitable trees and resources. They are adaptable birds that thrive in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and residential neighborhoods, making them quite flexible with their location choices.
  • Dense foliage: Shelter is an important factor for blue jays. They often nest in dense foliage or in the cavities of trees, providing them with security and protection from predators. This is why planting shrubs and bushes in your yard can attract them, as it creates additional shelter for the blue jays (as well as other native bird species).

What to Feed Blue Jays (Favorite Foods)

close up of a blue jay with a whole peanut in the shell in its beak


  • Blue Jays love nuts, especially acorns and beechnuts. These are an important part of their diet, and providing a supply of these in your bird feeder will undoubtedly draw them in.
  • Don’t forget to offer other types of nuts too, such as peanuts, which can be left in their shells for an added challenge.

Seeds and Grains

  • A variety of seeds should attract Blue Jays.
  • Black oil sunflower seeds and striped sunflower seeds are particular favorites and can be offered in several forms, including whole, shelled, or as oil-rich chips.
  • Cracked corn is another popular choice, along with other grains.


  • These birds have a taste for natural, fruit-based treats.
  • Offer a selection of berries such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries for your feathered friends to enjoy.
  • You can even plant fruit-bearing shrubs in your yard to provide a more long-term source of their favorite berries.


  • Blue Jays not only appreciate nuts, seeds, and berries, but they also enjoy suet.
  • Providing suet cakes or suet products, like those infused with peanut butter or seeds, can be a tasty treat that helps to diversify their diet.

Remember, a well-balanced diet is key to attracting Blue Jays.

Be sure to offer an assortment of nuts, seeds, berries, and suet in your feeders, and they’ll likely become regular visitors to your yard.

Blue Jay Bird Feeders

two blue jays squabbling at a bird feeder over seeds

When trying to attract blue jays to your yard, the type of feeder you choose is quite crucial.

Blue jays are larger birds compared to most songbirds, so it’s important to select a feeder that accommodates their size.

You’ll want to consider a variety of suitable bird feeders for these birds, such as:

  • Platform feeders
  • Hopper feeders
  • Cage feeders
  • Pole-mounted feeders

Platform Feeders

One of the most popular feeders for blue jays is a tray or platform feeder since these feeders offer ample room for blue jays to perch and access their food easily.

Just avoid hanging feeders that swing or sway, as they may not provide enough support for them.

Pole-Mounted Feeders

Ground or pole-mounted feeders are another excellent option to attract blue jays.

These feeders give them a stable area to feed from while offering easy access to their favorite foods such as peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds, and suet balls.

However, make sure your feeders are in a location safe from predators and well within your sight for bird-watching purposes.

Feeder Size

There is a wide range of bird feeders available on the market.

While selecting one specifically designed for blue jays might not be necessary, you’ll need to look for features that cater to their needs.

Consider a feeder that can accommodate their large size, around 9 to 12 inches long and weighing between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces.

Bird Feeder Maintenance

Maintaining clean feeders is not only important for the health of the birds but is also proven to keep them coming back.

Clean feeders regularly to ensure they are free from mold, old seeds, and droppings.

Replace wet or spoiled food, and always provide fresh seeds and nuts.

Attracting Blue Jays Through Water Sources

blue jay bathing in a bird bath

One effective way to draw blue jays to your backyard is by providing them with suitable water sources. Blue jays, like all birds, need clean water for drinking and bathing.

A well-maintained birdbath can be an excellent addition to your yard, attracting not only blue jays but a multitude of other bird species.

Bird Bath Accessibility

Birdbaths come in various styles and materials, but the key to attracting blue jays is ensuring they are clean and accessible. Scrub your birdbath regularly to keep the water fresh and free from debris.

Adding some rocks or pebbles can give birds an easy path to follow and improve traction, making the bath more usable for them.

A shallow birdbath with no more than 3 inches of water will appeal to them.

Add Movement

Shallow water sources with moving water are ideal for blue jays.

You can add a bubbler or dripper to create movement in the water, which can capture their attention and keep the water fresh.

Try Heated Bird Baths

Heated birdbaths are particularly useful in attracting blue jays during colder months.

By keeping the water at a consistent temperature, you help birds avoid freezing conditions, ensuring that they can access clean drinking water throughout the year.

Bird Bath Placement

Remember that blue jays are known to be cautious birds, so placing the birdbath in a quiet area free from predators, noise, and excessive human activity is necessary.

This allows the birds to feel safe and comfortable enough to engage in their natural bathing behavior.

Selecting the Right Trees and Plants

Blue jays prefer a habitat that provides a rich source of food and shelter. The right combination of trees, shrubs, and grasses can create an inviting environment for these beautiful birds.


  • Oak trees are particularly important for blue jays, as they produce acorns, which are a favorite food source for these birds. Planting both white and red oak trees in your yard can offer a bountiful supply of acorns.
  • Beech trees are another excellent choice, as their nuts also attract blue jays.
  • Additionally, these trees provide suitable nesting sites for the birds, making them a valuable addition to their habitat.


  • Using a variety of shrubs in your landscape not only provides blue jays with shelter but can also offer them a source of food.
  • Planting berry-producing shrubs, such as serviceberries, dogwoods, and viburnums, can help supplement their diet.
  • These shrubs are also native to many regions where blue jays are found, making them an ideal choice for attracting the birds and supporting local ecosystems.


  • Native grasses can play a role in attracting blue jays as well. They often provide cover for ground-dwelling insects, which make up a small part of the blue jay’s diet.
  • Additionally, tall grasses can offer nesting material for the birds, so adding native grasses into your landscape design can be beneficial.

Considering the Nesting Needs

blue jay eggs in a nest

When trying to attract blue jays to your outdoor space, one vital aspect to consider is their nesting needs.

Blue jays commonly build their nests in trees or tall shrubs, usually about 10 to 25 feet above the ground. They prefer to have a good vantage point of their territory, which helps them keep an eye out for predators or other wildlife.

  • To encourage blue jays to nest in your yard, provide a suitable nesting environment by having a mix of trees and shrubs.
  • The birds will use various materials like twigs, moss, and leaves to build their nests. You can help them by leaving some of these materials in your outdoor space, such as small branches and dry leaves.
  • Keep in mind that blue jays are territorial birds, so they appreciate having some space around their nesting area.
  • Make sure that your yard offers a balance between open areas and dense vegetation for them to feel comfortable and secure.
  • A bird-friendly environment with a variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants will encourage blue jays to consider your yard as their potential nesting site.
  • In addition to providing nesting materials and the right environment, you can further support the parent blue jays by having fresh water available, such as birdbaths. Blue jays need a reliable water source not just for drinking, but also to keep their feathers clean, which plays a crucial role in successful nesting and raising their young.

Interesting Facts About Blue Jay Behavior

Blue jays are territorial, intelligent songbirds found throughout North America. They are known for their striking coloration, which blends blue, white, and black feathers, as well as their raucous calls and assertive nature.

With a size ranging between 9 to 12 inches in length and a weight of 2.5 to 3.5 ounces, these medium-sized birds are both beautiful and bold.

As highly intelligent birds, blue jays display an array of fascinating behaviors. They are able to mimic the calls of other birds, such as hawks, which they use to their advantage when defending their territory or warning other jays of potential threats.

Mating season, typically in the spring, brings out even bolder actions, as blue jays work to establish their territory, attract a mate, and raise their young.

One of the key aspects of blue jay behavior is their adaptability.

As food opportunists, they have a diverse diet that consists of insects, nuts, seeds, and small vertebrates. This allows them to thrive in many different environments and makes them a common sight for many North Americans.

Interestingly, blue jays show a remarkable level of curiosity towards humans and their activities. They are known to frequent bird feeders and are not easily spooked by human presence.

This trait, combined with their striking beauty and entertaining behavior, makes them a beloved sight in many a backyard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best food to attract blue jays?

Blue jays have a diverse diet, but they are particularly fond of nuts, seeds, and grains.

Whole peanuts, sunflower seeds (both black oil and striped varieties), and corn are some of their favorites. Offering these foods in your bird feeders can help attract blue jays to your yard 1.

How do you befriend a blue jay?

Befriending a blue jay takes time and patience. Start by observing their daily routines and getting to know their favorite perching spots.

Regularly provide them with their preferred foods and maintain a clean, fresh water source for them2.

Also, try placing bird feeders near areas where they feel safe, such as dense shrubs or trees. In time, blue jays may become more comfortable with your presence and proximity.

What kind of feeders do blue jays like?

Blue jays are larger than most songbirds, ranging between 9 to 12 inches in size3. Therefore, they require feeders spacious enough to accommodate their stature.

They are especially drawn to platform feeders or those with wide perches, which allow them to access food more comfortably.

Choose feeders crafted from sturdy materials that can support their weight.

How do you attract blue jays and cardinals?

Both blue jays and cardinals enjoy similar food sources. Place feeders with sunflower seeds and whole peanuts to attract both species4.

You can also plant berry-bearing shrubs and provide access to clean water to create a welcoming environment for both types of birds.

What to feed blue jays in the winter?

Blue jays need high-energy foods to sustain them during the cold winter months. Offering them whole peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet can provide them with the essential calories for survival5.

Suet, which is a mixture of animal fat and other ingredients like seeds or pellets, is especially beneficial in the winter as it provides extra energy for birds.

What flowers attract blue jays?

There is no specific flower that is known to specifically attract blue jays.

However, planting berry-bearing shrubs like serviceberry, dogwood, or winterberry can provide natural food sources that may draw their attention6.

Additionally, creating a diverse garden environment with native plants can help support various insect populations, which blue jays also include in their diet.



Quick Instructional Video on Attracting Blue Jays

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