What Foods Do Blue Jays Eat?

If you want to feed these bold birds in your backyard, you need to know what blue jays eat. Experts reveal the best foods to put on the menu for blue jays.

what do blue jays eatCourtesy Linda Taylor

What Do Blue Jays Eat?

“I saw a blue jay flying up to the eaves of my house and then down to the roof. It was dissecting a wasps’ or bees’ nest. Do blue jays eat those insects?” asks Melody VanOteghem Milan, Illinois.

Blue jays are fun to watch. These large, blue colored birds are clever and adaptable with a varied diet. In addition to nuts and seeds, blue jays may eat other food sources such as berries, bugs and frogs. They usually don’t eat adult bees or wasps, but sometimes they will break open a wasps’ nest to eat the soft larvae inside. Around a small wasps’ nest, blue jays have been observed catching and crushing the adult wasps and dropping them on the ground. Then, with the stinging adults out of the way, the jays will break off pieces of the nest to eat the young wasps inside it.

Here’s why the blue jay’s range is expanding westward.

Blue jays prefer to eat their food from tray and hopper feeders, or another flat raised surface. Their robust bill can make quick work of peanuts, acorns, sunflower seeds and even suet. We often joke that these smart birds seem to have what we call “peanut radar.” We can go for days without seeing any blue jays, but the minute we put out the peanuts, they quickly appear. Peanuts not only provide protein for birds, they’re also a good source of unsaturated fat.

Attract more backyard birds by feeding peanuts.

blue jay eating insectCourtesy Deborah Morrison
Blue jay catching a bug

Do Blue Jays Cache Food?

The blue jay has an expandable throat pouch where it can temporarily store peanuts or acorns. These birds also cache seeds and nuts by shoving them into the soil, to retrieve later. Uneaten caches sprout into new oaks, walnuts, pines, and other trees, to keep forests renewed…or to tickle us with an unexpected cluster of sunflower seedlings!

“The blue jays that visit our feeders are difficult to photograph. They’re very skittish, darting in to snatch a peanut and then quickly flying away to either enjoy it or stash it for later. Oftentimes, the greedy jays store one peanut in their craw before plucking a second one and flying away,” says Linda Taylor of Waco, Texas.

Next, learn how to tell the difference between bluebirds vs blue jays.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.