Blue jays have inspired everything from a baseball team to a Beatles song, so why would anyone want to get rid of them?
If you’ve never met a blue jay yourself, you might be shocked by all the hate blue jays get. Right before the iconic moment in To Kill a Mockingbird where Atticus Finch tells Jem and Scout shooting a mockingbird is a sin, he gives the okay to “shoot all the blue jays you want.”
Atticus’ words would fall foul of the fowl-protecting Migratory Bird Treaty Act today, which protects songbirds, including blue jays, from hunters – but as the Audubon Society itself admits, even bird lovers love to hate blue jays.
There are several reasons for that, not the least of which being:
- They can be very loud
- They and other large “bully birds” can push out smaller birds
- They can eat all of a bird feeder’s nuts and seeds
- They are often messy eaters
- They are cleverer than other birds, making them harder to ward off
- They sometimes come in gangs
- They can be aggressive dive bombers, attacking everyone from cats to police
In short, blue jays are both beautiful songbirds and airborne jerks.
So if you’re done saying “OK Blue Jays” and are looking for a “Blue Jay Way” to get rid of them, these 10 methods can allow you to do so without having to take Atticus’ words literally and start reading up on how “To Kill a Blue Jay.”
1 – Fake Owl
Blue jays may be “bully birds,” but like most bullies, all it takes is someone bigger coming along for them to cower in fright and back off. In the wild, owls fill that niche nicely.
While blue jays are just aggressive songbirds, owls are legitimate predators, and while they don’t tend to seek out blue jays for their nocturnal noshing, they aren’t to be trifled with, either.
Of course, finding a wild owl and making them work for you or purchasing and training one aren’t exactly feasible options. Thankfully, a fake owl may be just as good as the real thing for the same reason that a scarecrow scares off crows despite not actually being a threat.
Blue jays may be smarter than the average bird, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t birdbrains when it comes to failing to distinguish a fake person or owl from the real thing.
A single fake owl, a few convincing rubber snakes, or something similar can scare blue jays away.
2 – Get a Cat
Of course, if a fake predator doesn’t do the trick, you might need to consider moving on to the real thing. Cats have a natural instinct for hunting birds, and if your cat is an outdoor cat, they’ll be more than happy to try and nab a jay or two.
They may even bring it back to you proudly to show off their success – which you could probably do without, but one problem at a time.
The good thing about cats is that, even if they don’t actually catch the blue jays, they have the same benefit of fake owls and snakes – blue jays see and identify them and assume they’re a threat (correctly this time) and thus avoid the area.
3 – Wind Chimes
Maybe you’re a total pacifist and don’t want a cat chasing and potentially catching blue jays, and maybe the threat of a fake owl or snake doesn’t appeal to you, either. If so, you might want to consider wind chimes instead.
They’re completely nonviolent, blue jays tend not to like the sounds they create, and they offer an opportunity to unleash your creativity.
In addition to the obvious benefit of the sound wind chimes generate, which can be strange to blue jays and thus ward them off, the metallic, crystalline, and liquid crystal material from which many are made is highly reflective. This brightness can dissuade blue jays from choosing to land there.
You can either purchase a wind chime online or make your own. There are many methods for making wind chimes and designs that they can take, so Google around a bit and see which method suits both your needs and creative vision best.
4 – Blast Music
Birds may be natural songbirds, but they’re no match for, well, the Byrds – or the Yardbirds, Eagles, a Flock of Seagulls, or even non-avian-named bands. Whatever your taste in music, you can get that blue jays probably won’t match it if the volume is turned up loud enough.
Of course, even if it’s a band you love, you don’t want to blast that music 24/7 (and even if you do, your neighbors certainly don’t), so consider hooking up your speakers to a digital device set to a timer, or even a security system that’s triggered by a bird’s presence.
5 – Be More Creative with Your Feeder
If blue jays are taking over your bird feeder, it may be time to update it to keep them from being such bully birds and level the playing field for the rest of the birds who frequent it.
Examine your bird feeder and see what, if any, elements of it the blue jay is taking advantage of, especially ways in which they may be blocking other birds from getting at the bird feed.
For example, you might want to examine the tubing and mesh around the feeder trays. Ideally, it should be constructed in such a way that the mesh surrounds the feeding tube so that the smaller birds can pass through and enter the chamber, while blue birds and other large bully birds are stuck on the outside, eating the seeds that filter out past the mesh.
This offers a nice compromise that allows birds big and small to eat at your feeder.
6 – Clear Away Stray Seeds
Remember that part about blue jays being messy eaters? They also don’t mind transforming other birds’ messes into their own birdy buffet.
As with many animals, if you want to get rid of them, you need to cut off their food source, and that simply won’t work if, even as you deny them access to the feeder, there are still plenty of seeds for them to enjoy on the floor.
If you don’t want scavenging blue jays cleaning up after you, or other messy birds at your bird feeder, be sure to do so yourself.
7 – Set up Alternative Feeders
Maybe you don’t hate blue jays so much as to want to get rid of them completely. Perhaps you still like their beauty and boldness – you just wish they wouldn’t be such a bully to all the other birds around your birdfeeder.
If that’s the case, an obvious alternative to getting rid of them is to simply set up another bird feeder that’s dedicated to them, allowing your other birds to nibble in peace.
For a somewhat lower-tech variation of this solution, create a longer perch and slip a soda bottle on top of each end. While smaller, lighter birds should be fine, larger bully birds such as blue jays will be too heavy, making the bottle start to spin, causing them to lose their balance.
8 – Change the Seeds You Serve
Blue jays can sometimes be picky about the type of seeds that they choose to eat. For example, they tend not to like safflower. Serve that and other seeds blue jays don’t like, and they’ll leave your feeder alone.
9 – Weight the Perch
Most of the time, a blue jay’s greater weight is one of its major advantages versus the smaller birds they can bully away from feeders.
However, with a little ingenuity, you can actually turn that advantage into a liability by creating perches that are weight-sensitive, with a triggering mechanism that drops them down below the feeding area if something too heavy sits upon them.
This can keep blue jays (as well as animals like squirrels) from eating from the feeder while letting smaller birds perch and eat in peace.
Similarly, you may want to consider adding feeding areas that lack a perch entirely. These can be accessed by lighter birds, such as hummingbirds, without competition from larger bully birds who need a perch to eat, including blue jays.
10 – A Mirror up to Their Nature
Blue jays may be smart, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still birds, which means they can be susceptible to thinking that their reflection is another bird. Placing a mirror inside your feeder or somewhere else where they are sure to see it can increase the chances of them seeing their reflection and being spooked off or agitated by this “other” bird.
Either way, there’s a decent chance they’ll fly off to go look for food elsewhere.
Blue jays may be beautiful, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants them hanging around their bird feeder or home all the time. If you’re someone who’d like to bid a blue jay good day while sending them on their way, the methods above can help you do so in a peaceful manner.
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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Monday 16th of May 2022
Thanks for this! My fake owl is on order and I'm hoping it does the trick. My kids fed the "cute scrub jay" some nuts and now he comes to my window every morning at 5:30 am and squawks.
Wednesday 2nd of June 2021
Get a cat? Worst advice. Jays will attack your cat (your cat shouldn’t be outside anyway).