When it comes to watching birds by the bird feeder, there is often a recognizable sight if you live in the eastern and central parts of the United States and Canada: a blue and white bird bullying the other birds.
While having a bully bird at the feeder is not an uncommon sight to see, there are times when it can become problematic and drive away other birds in the area. If you notice that the blue jays on your property are causing issues and you want your backyard to be welcoming to all birds, you may have to take some steps to get rid of the blue jays. There are a few different ways that you can go about this process, but your first step is going to be to understand why the blue jays are there in the first place.
What Makes Blue Jays Problematic?
Blue jays fall into an unofficial category of birds that are known as bully birds. These are aggressive, dominating birds who often make this status known to any birds who encroach on a feeding area, such as a bird feeder. A more scientific way of looking at it is that during the winter season, blue jays become highly territorial and aggressive toward birds that do not fall within the blue jay’s social ranking.
To expand on this, consider watching blue jays during the spring and summer seasons. They often do not bully other birds to the degree that they do during the winter, and this is because food is easy to find even beyond the feeder that you have set out. As such, there is no need for the blue jays to establish a pecking order, so to speak, as there is an abundance of food for all to feast from.
However, as the temperature falls and other sources of food become scarce, the blue jays will band together with other birds of their species to protect their territory and resources, the focus of which is often going to end up being your backyard bird feeder. If a smaller, less aggressive songbird tries to eat from the feeder, the blue jays will protect their food source, causing the bully-like behavior that they are so known for.
What Brings Blue Jays to the Yard?
Now that you understand a little bit more about what goes into the blue jay’s bullying problem, you will want to begin looking at what brings the blue jays to the yard in the first place. After all, if you know why they want to be in your yard, you will have a much easier time keeping them away from it. More often than not, their desire is going to be the bird feeder and the reliable source of winter food that it brings, but there is sometimes more that you can do to keep them away.
Sometimes, it can be the type of trees that your yard sports. Blue jays typically prefer large oaks, beech, and hickory trees as well as thickets and bush landscapes for them to feel secure in. They also enjoy areas that have prime nesting spots, which will often be in the high branches of the trees as they are not cavity-nesting birds.
Having a still water source in your backyard will attract most birds to it, but especially blue jays. Not only do birdbaths provide water and a place for birds to keep clean, but as one of the more inquisitive and curious types of bird out there, blue jays enjoy listening to dripping water, looking at reflections, and playing in the water.
Choosing Seed Mixes That Keep Blue Jays Away
There are several different routes you can take when you are looking into how to get rid of blue jays. One such route that you can choose is to make the feeder food unappealing to a blue jay’s tastes, though this may not remove them all. If you fill the feeder with nuts and seeds that other birds prefer, blue jays may opt to seek their food out elsewhere.
Blue jays typically prefer to eat peanuts, mealworms, cracked corn, and sunflower seeds. This means that if you want to keep them away from your backyard, you should make sure to choose seed mixes that do not include as many of these. They tend to dislike safflower seeds and other smaller seeds, meaning that if you choose a seed mix with these in it, you can reduce the number of blue jays who come to bully the other birds.
You may also want to consider actively cleaning away seeds from the feeder on a regular basis. Blue jays do not mind eating seeds off the ground that other birds have thrown, so by cleaning up stray and spilled seeds, you are reducing the number of places that the blue jay can possibly feed from, giving it fewer reasons to bully the other birds.
Choosing Feeders That Blue Jays Do Not Like
Another route that you can choose to take is making the entire feeder unappealing to the blue jay. Blue jays are resilient and hardy birds, but there are some features that you can take advantage of when customizing your feeder to leave blue jays feeling uncomfortable and that the feeder is not worth defending from other birds.
If you want blue jays in your yard but just don’t want them dominating the feeders, you can consider opting for a feeder that benefits small songbirds as well as the feeder that the blue jays seem to prefer. This allows for all the birds in the yard to be happy and for all the birds to get some enjoyable food while leaving you able to watch all of the birds peacefully coexisting.
You can also consider adding weights to the perch or, if you don’t mind the look, attaching an empty soda bottle to the perch. Adding weights to the perch means that heavier birds, such as the blue jay, will not be able to comfortably stand while they are trying to eat. Likewise, the soda bottle will roll around under the weight of the blue jay but will stay still when smaller birds land on it, achieving the same effect.
Choosing Lawn Décor to Ward Off Blue Jays
You can also consider adding deterrents around your lawn to keep blue jays away. This process can be somewhat hit or miss, though, as it affects the whole yard and may ward off other birds in addition to the blue jays. You will want to weigh these risks against the benefit of no longer having the bully blue jays around.
One harmless option that you can consider is adding windchimes to your property. Blue jays, in particular, do not appreciate the sound or appearance of windchimes and will not feel safe sitting to eat if they can hear or see them on your property. Metallic and crystalline windchimes work best for repelling blue jays. You can also consider getting a mirror. Blue jays are relatively intelligent, but not enough to distinguish a mirror’s reflection from another angry bird.
You can also consider specific types of lawn décor, with the most commonly used one being a fake owl. If blue jays are the bullies of songbirds, owls can be considered the bully of blue jays, and blue jays will generally back down and stay away from your yard if they feel as if the predatory owl is watching them. Make sure to get a relatively lifelike owl for this to work.
Blue jays are a delightful addition to a backyard feeder during the seasons when they are not bullying the other birds. When the blue jays start to form a pecking order at the feeder and bully the smaller birds away from getting their food, there are several different routes you can take to ward them off.
Some people opt for seed mixes that blue jays don’t care for, while other people may opt for feeders that the heavier blue jay cannot eat from. There are plenty of people who opt for windchimes, fake owls, or mirrors to keep the blue jays from feeling as if they own the backyard as well.