Attracting Blue Jays: Colorful Backyard Songbirds

Considered one of the biggest, brassiest songbirds in North America, blue jays are easy to attract with these simple ideas.

THE SUBJECT

Blue jays are some of the biggest, brassiest and most colorful backyard songbirds in North America. They’re also part of the corvid (crow) family, so they’re very smart, too. Though some people find them too bold and loud, many more welcome any sighting of this beautiful flyer. Most of the Eastern half of the U.S. sees blue jays.

THE MARKINGS

At 11 to 12 inches and sporting bright blue feathers, jays are hard to miss when they pass through your yard. Males and females are difficult to tell apart, so you might want to refrain from calling the blue jay hanging out in your tree a “he.” The species is distinguished by a prominent crest and noticeable white and black patterns throughout the predominant blue.

BACKYARD FAVORITES

For attracting blue jays, you can’t go wrong with peanuts, either in or out of the shell. Some people put them out on a tray feeder, though this will make them easy pickings for squirrels. You can also invest in a feeder made just for peanuts. One more idea: Blue jays love acorns, so on your next fall walk, gather some up and offer them at your feeder.

NESTING HABITS

Both parents take part in nest building, with males usually doing more of the gathering and females specializing in construction, typically in the crook of a tree. It’s not uncommon for jays to start building more than one nest; if they detect a predator, they’ll move right away. Females lay up to seven eggs. Once they hatch, young fledge at between two and three weeks old.

FASCINATING FACTS

Blue jays are typically considered year-round residents, but they will migrate in large groups—sometimes by the hundreds—from one spot to another. The next time you notice a flock of migrants, look up to see if they’re blue jays.

DID YOU KNOW?