Aggressive, territorial, and obnoxiously noisy blue jays can be quite a nuisance for homeowners, small birds, and fictitious lawyers in Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, apparently.
While Atticus Finch thought killing mockingbirds was a sin, the idea of going after (and even shooting) blue jays didn’t seem to bother him all that much.
But no matter what Finch thinks, it’s still a federal crime to harm those blue-looking birds. Oh, yes, they’re not even really blue. They’re just deceiving you with their weird plumage, but I digress.
The gist of it is that if you want to protect small birds that came looking for food in your backyard from those relentless bullies, you have to go for calculated, non-violent moves.
Let’s sort out the common deterrence tactics to see how you can keep blue jays away from your bird feeders.
5 Smart Approaches to Keep the Blue Jays Away From Feeders
Before I go over the second-tier tactics, I’ll share with you my top five tips:
1 – Just Give the Blue Jays What They Want
Before you try to deter the jays from your bird feeders, why not try to get on their good side and give them a dedicated eating spot?
A large feeder (preferably a tray or a wreath) should appeal to those bad boys. But to really seal the deal, stock it with peanuts—blue jays go crazy for peanuts!
Just make sure to pick unsalted and unshelled ones. This way, they’ll get distracted for a while, trying to pry the nuts out.
That said, they might empty a feeder in just a few hours. When they do, they’ll move on to other feeders and bother the smaller, weaker birds.
So, I’d recommend putting the jay-specific feeder on the other side of the house.
Pro Tip: Since this isn’t your “main” feeder, you don’t have to splurge on it. A simple DIY woodworking project will do the trick.
2 – Switch to a Less-Appealing Birdseed
I hate how blue jays aren’t picky eaters. They devour almost all the nuts and seeds I put out.
But two things they don’t like are nyjer (or “thistle,” if that’s what you call it) and safflower.
The good news? Finches, cardinals, and chickadees don’t mind the tiny black nyjer seeds as long as they’re fresh. So, your feeder will still get some polite visitors after the jays up and leave.
Bonus Point: Switching to nyjer will help you deter other “bullies” like starlings as well.
3 – Buy a Bird Feeder That Blue Jays Can’t Enter
Birds that get “bullied” are typically small and can fit in spaces that jays can’t. So, one approach is to sort the visitors by size rather than dietary preference.
How? Look for tube-shaped feeders for a start. Usually, blue jays can’t use those.
It’s also possible to build a feeder that fits the criteria if you have the skills to pull it off. You can even retrofit your feeder with a makeshift cage using welded wire.
These ideas can help smaller birds in the area enjoy your feeders, but they might not be ideal for all local birds. For instance, cardinals likely won’t be able to use these small feeders.
My take here is that using a mix of different-sized bird feeders is usually the best way to go.
4 – Use a Weighted, Collapsible Perch
Weight-sensitive feeders can work to keep a whole lot of large birds away, not just blue jays.
They also work on pigeons, for one. Obviously, they’re squirrel-proof, too.
Nowadays, there are many variations on the market, but the general idea is that the perch is designed to handle a specific weight. Any bird (or animal) heavier than this limit will either trigger the perch to go down or close up the feeding openings.
I know you’re probably thinking this is the same idea as the one in method no.3. But technically, you’re sorting by weight here rather than body width/size. So, I had to mention this as a separate tip.
5 – Set Garbage Bins Under Bird Feeders
Birds tend to be clumsy, at least the ones in my backyard. They drop and scatter birdseed on the ground while using the feeder all the time.
The issue here is that blue jays might eat the birdseed that falls on the ground. So, yes, as ironic as it sounds, the small birds might be inadvertently attracting bullies with their own clumsy eating habits.
One way to solve this issue is to place a garbage can under the feeder. The garbage can is going to catch the lion’s share of the seed that falls off, and you won’t have to worry about a blue jay flying in there to get it.
Why? Blue jays are brave but not stupid—they’ll likely be wary of flying into a garbage can because they’ll know it might be tricky to get out.
3 Blue Jay Deterrents to Avoid Around Your Feeders
While searching for a simple and legal way to get rid of blue jays, I came across a few suggestions that seemed reasonable at first but would end up backfiring.
I have to stress the “legal” part here because blue jays are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So, you should never try to hunt, kill, or capture them.
This disclaimer aside, here are three approaches that I would avoid using around my bird feeders:
1 – Decoy Predators
Many people recommend popping up a plastic owl near feeders to scare away the jays.
And I’ll admit there’s some logic to this suggestion. After all, owls are one of the few birds that can rough up a blue jay.
However, it’s fair to assume that a whole lot of birds find owls scary. So, you’ll be deterring songbirds, too.
2 – CDs and Holographic Repellers
But, on the flip side, it’ll scare away nearly all bird visitors—no bueno.
3 – Loud Music
Some folks believe blue jays don’t like noise. That said, you’ll probably have to blast really loud music to scare those cunning birds off. I’m talking noise-ordinance-breaking volume here.
I’d rather change the seed type or pop a separate feeder for the jays somewhere around the house.
I don’t really hate blue jays. You probably don’t either. They have some redeeming qualities, and they do look good cracking away at some peanuts.
But you probably just want them to stop bullying smaller birds visiting your backyard, and that’s understandable.
Hopefully, if you use some of the methods listed above, blue jays will stop hanging out around your bird feeders. Which one of the options will be the best to use depends on what you’re going for.
Some people like the idea of giving them their own feeder to keep them separated from the smaller birds. Others will try to keep them away entirely, but it’s ultimately your decision.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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