How To Keep Blue Jays Away From Bird Feeders

Blue jays are clever, bold birds that can dominate feeders and scare smaller birds away. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: use feeders with weight perches, avoid peanuts, and install a suet cage to distract jays. Read on for a detailed guide on deterring blue jays humanely.

In this approximately 3000 word article, you’ll learn blue jay feeding habits, humane ways to discourage them, and how to set up a backyard habitat that minimizes jay bullying.

Understanding Blue Jay Behavior

Blue Jays are known for their vibrant blue feathers and distinctive calls, but they are also notorious for their aggressive behavior. Understanding their behavior can help bird enthusiasts find effective ways to keep them away from bird feeders.

Aggressive Nature

Blue Jays are highly territorial birds and will vigorously defend their feeding areas. They often chase away other birds, including smaller songbirds, to assert their dominance. This territorial behavior is more pronounced during breeding season when they are protecting their nests.

One reason for their aggressive nature is their need to secure enough food for themselves and their young. Blue Jays have a large appetite and are known to hoard food by burying it for later use. This instinctual behavior drives them to protect their food sources, including bird feeders.

To deter Blue Jays from monopolizing your bird feeders, it is important to understand their food preferences.

Food Preferences

Blue Jays are omnivorous birds, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Their diet consists of various nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and even small vertebrates like mice and frogs. However, they have a particular fondness for peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.

Knowing their food preferences can be advantageous when trying to attract or repel Blue Jays. If you want to discourage them from your feeders, avoid offering peanuts or sunflower seeds, as these are their favorite treats.

Instead, opt for food that Blue Jays are less likely to consume, such as nyjer seeds or safflower seeds.

Additionally, offering specialized Blue Jay feeders can help redirect their attention away from other bird feeders. These feeders are designed with larger perches and compartments that make it more difficult for smaller birds to access the food.

Keep in mind that while Blue Jays can be a nuisance at times, they also play an important role in ecosystems by dispersing seeds and controlling insect populations. Finding a balance between attracting desired bird species and managing Blue Jay behavior is key to maintaining a harmonious backyard birding experience.

Choosing Selective Bird Feeders

When it comes to keeping blue jays away from bird feeders, selecting the right type of bird feeder can make a significant difference. Here are three selective bird feeders that can help discourage blue jays:

Tail Prop Suet Feeders

Blue jays are known for their love of suet, a high-energy food made from animal fat. However, using a tail prop suet feeder can deter blue jays while still attracting smaller birds like woodpeckers and chickadees.

Tail prop suet feeders are designed with a horizontal bar for birds to rest their tails while feeding. Blue jays, with their long tails, find it challenging to balance on these feeders, making it less likely for them to visit frequently.

Squirrel Baffles

Blue jays are not the only visitors that can disrupt bird feeding stations. Squirrels can also be a nuisance. Installing squirrel baffles can help keep both blue jays and squirrels away from the feeders. Squirrel baffles are dome-shaped or cone-shaped devices that are placed above or below the feeder.

They create a physical barrier that prevents squirrels and larger birds, like blue jays, from accessing the food. Ensure that the baffle is positioned at a sufficient distance from any nearby trees or structures to avoid squirrels from jumping or climbing onto the feeder.

Weight-Sensitive Perches

Another effective way to deter blue jays from bird feeders is by using weight-sensitive perches. These feeders are designed to close off the feeding ports when a heavy bird, such as a blue jay, lands on them.

Smaller and lighter birds can still access the food without triggering the closing mechanism. Weight-sensitive perches are a great option for attracting finches, sparrows, and other small songbirds while discouraging larger, more aggressive birds like blue jays.

When choosing a bird feeder, it’s important to consider the specific needs and behaviors of the birds you want to attract while keeping blue jays at bay. By selecting tail prop suet feeders, installing squirrel baffles, or opting for weight-sensitive perches, you can create a more welcoming environment for your desired bird species while minimizing blue jay visits.

Deterring Blue Jays with Unappealing Food

Blue jays are beautiful birds that can add color and life to your backyard. However, they can also be quite aggressive and dominate bird feeders, driving away other birds. If you’re looking to keep blue jays away from your bird feeders, one effective method is to offer them food that they find unappealing.

Avoid Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds

Blue jays are known to have a preference for peanuts and sunflower seeds. These high-energy foods are rich in fats and proteins, which make them extremely attractive to blue jays. By avoiding these foods in your bird feeders, you can discourage blue jays from frequenting your feeding area.

Instead, consider opting for seeds that blue jays find less appealing. Safflower seeds are a great alternative, as many blue jays tend to avoid them due to their bitter taste. Safflower seeds are still enjoyed by other birds such as cardinals, chickadees, and finches, so you can still attract a variety of beautiful birds to your backyard.

Millet is another option to deter blue jays. This small, round seed is not a favorite of blue jays and is often left untouched by them. By offering millet in your bird feeders, you can help ensure that other smaller birds can enjoy their meals without being intimidated by blue jays.

Using Strategic Feeder Placement

One effective way to keep blue jays away from bird feeders is by using strategic feeder placement. By strategically positioning your feeders, you can create a setup that discourages blue jays from dominating the feeding area and allows smaller songbirds to enjoy their meals in peace.

Separate Jay and Songbird Feeders

A key strategy is to separate your feeders for blue jays and songbirds. Blue jays are known for their aggressive behavior and tendency to scare away smaller birds. By providing separate feeders, you can attract different species without the risk of blue jays dominating the area.

Consider using larger platform feeders or hopper feeders for blue jays, as these can accommodate their larger size and allow them to feed comfortably. Place these feeders in a more open area away from shrubs or trees, which can serve as hiding spots for smaller birds.

For songbirds, opt for tube feeders or mesh feeders with smaller openings. These types of feeders make it more difficult for blue jays to access the food, while still allowing smaller birds to feed comfortably.

Hang these feeders in areas with plenty of nearby foliage, as songbirds prefer to feed in more sheltered locations.

Elevate Feeders in Open Areas

Another effective strategy is to elevate your feeders in open areas. Blue jays prefer to feed on the ground or on low-hanging feeders, so raising your feeders higher off the ground can deter them from accessing the food.

You can use hanging hooks or feeder poles to elevate your feeders. Aim for a height of at least 5 to 6 feet from the ground to make it more difficult for blue jays to reach. Additionally, by placing the feeders in open areas away from trees or structures, you reduce the chances of blue jays swooping in and dominating the feeding space.

Remember to regularly clean your feeders and provide fresh food to attract a variety of birds. By using strategic feeder placement, you can create a bird-friendly environment that encourages the presence of songbirds while keeping blue jays at bay.

Supplementing with Jay-Friendly Foods

While it’s important to discourage Blue Jays from monopolizing bird feeders, it’s equally important to provide them with alternative food sources. By supplementing their diet with jay-friendly foods, you can help redirect their attention away from the bird feeders and maintain a more balanced ecosystem in your backyard.

Suet Cages

One effective way to attract Blue Jays and keep them away from your bird feeders is by offering suet cages. Blue Jays are particularly fond of suet, which is a high-energy food made from animal fat. Suet cakes can be easily placed in a suet cage, which can then be hung in a separate area of your yard or garden.

This provides Blue Jays with a tasty treat that they can enjoy without interfering with other bird species at the feeders.

It’s important to note that suet cages should be placed in a location that is easily accessible to Blue Jays but not easily accessible to squirrels or other animals that may be attracted to the suet. Hanging the suet cage from a tree branch or using a specialized squirrel-proof suet feeder can help ensure that only Blue Jays and other desired bird species can access the suet.

Corn Cobs

Another jay-friendly food option is offering corn cobs. Blue Jays have a natural affinity for corn, and providing them with whole corn cobs can help satisfy their appetite. You can simply attach a corn cob to a feeder or place them in a designated area of your yard.

Blue Jays will happily peck at the corn kernels, keeping them occupied and away from the bird feeders.

When offering corn cobs, it’s essential to ensure that they are fresh and free from any mold or fungus. Blue Jays are known to be more susceptible to aflatoxin, a toxic substance that can develop on spoiled corn.

Regularly check the corn cobs for signs of spoilage and replace them as needed to ensure the safety and well-being of the Blue Jays.

Supplementing with jay-friendly foods not only provides Blue Jays with an alternative food source but also encourages them to stay away from the bird feeders. By diversifying the food offerings in your yard, you can create a more balanced and harmonious environment for all bird species to coexist.

Landscaping a Backyard Habitat

Creating a backyard habitat that is unappealing to blue jays can help keep them away from your bird feeders. By strategically landscaping your yard, you can provide cover for small birds and use water features as barriers, making it less attractive for blue jays to visit.

Provide Cover for Small Birds

One effective way to deter blue jays from bird feeders is to provide ample cover for small birds. Blue jays are known to prefer open spaces where they can easily spot and access food sources. By planting shrubs, bushes, and trees near your bird feeders, you create a natural barrier that makes it more difficult for blue jays to reach the feeders.

Small birds, on the other hand, will appreciate the added cover and feel safer while feeding. This simple landscaping technique not only helps protect the smaller birds but also reduces the likelihood of blue jays dominating the feeding area.

Use Water Features as Barriers

Another effective method for keeping blue jays away from bird feeders is to incorporate water features into your backyard habitat. Blue jays are not particularly fond of water, especially when it comes to getting wet.

By installing a birdbath or a small pond near your bird feeders, you create a natural barrier that blue jays are less likely to cross. Small birds, on the other hand, will enjoy the water source and will be more inclined to stay in the area, away from the feeders.

Additionally, the sound of running water can help deter blue jays, as they prefer quieter environments. So, not only do water features act as physical barriers, but they also create an environment that blue jays find less appealing.

Landscaping your backyard habitat to deter blue jays can be an effective and natural way to keep them away from your bird feeders. By providing cover for small birds and using water features as barriers, you can create an environment that is less attractive to blue jays while still providing a welcoming space for other bird species to enjoy.


Blue jays are intelligent, social birds that tend to monopolize backyard feeders. But with some clever tricks like selective feeders, strategic placement, and landscaping, you can create an inviting habitat for all birds.

Be patient, experiment with different techniques, and you’ll soon strike a balanced and harmonious environment for jays, chickadees, nuthatches and more.

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