Blue jays are beautiful birds. They have a baseball team named after them.
Many people have found Blue Jays to be mean and aggressive and wonder if that was a one-off case or if the bird is actually mean.
Are Blue Jays Mean/Aggressive?
Blue jays are, from a human perspective, both mean and aggressive, and they aren’t very pleasant for other birds to have around.
Blue jays are corvids. They are in the same family as crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, nutcrackers, choughs, and treepies.
What all of these birds have in common, other than the fact that they are passerines, that is, they are capable of perching in all the same locations as other favorite backyard birds, is that they are loud, noisy, and aggressive.
Many Bird Lovers Have Horror Stories About Blue Jays
How did blue jays earn their reputations as the bullies of the backyard bird sanctuary?
There are many stories about blue jays that run something like these:
“We used to build houses for the wrens, because they are nice birds and they eat a lot of bugs. Blue jays would go into their birdhouses and kill the babies.”
“Blue jays make a mess at the bird feeder, dropping more food than they eat. All the food on the ground attracts ants and pigeons.”
“Blue jays are very vocal, and they can master other bird languages. They use their ability to imitate the calls of other birds to steal their food.”
“Usually, male blue jays are more aggressive than females. But just before mating season, the female becomes the fighter, probably so it gets more nutrients. Females will invade other birds’ nests and eat their eggs. Both sexes become psychopaths just before the female lays eggs.”
“We had both blue jays and hawks in our backyard last summer. One day we watched a hawk catch a mouse. A bluejay became very agitated and flew over to the hawk, making it drop the mouse. Another blue jay ate the mouse. Then a group of blue jays pecked at the mouse until it flew away. All of the hawks left after that.”
“A blue jay flew into our school after recess. It set off the fire alarm. Later, one of the teachers tried to trap it under a trash can so he could slide it out the door, but it flew up and poked him in the eye. He had a red eye for weeks. I don’t know how they got rid of the bird, but when we came back to school after the weekend, it was gone.”
But Blue Jays Aren’t Always Bad to Have Around
Everything about living with blue jays isn’t bad for your favorite backyard songbirds.
Blue jays sound the alarm when they see hawks and owls.
They may drive to dive bomb egg-snatching raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and snakes.
They will poke and jab at owls and hawks that try to build nests in their territory until they finally decide to build their nests somewhere else.
The problem is that blue jays will attempt to scare off and will sometimes kill smaller birds that threaten their food sources.
They may steal eggs, hatchlings, or entire nests. As a result, other songbirds may gang up on blue jays to run them out of your yard.
You can always tell when a blue jay is ready for a fight. The blue crest on its head will rise when the bird is agitated.
It will lie back down when the bird is calm and relaxed.
This is how you can avoid a direct confrontation with a blue jay, unlike the teacher who got poked in the eye.
Also read: Blue Jay Eggs vs. Robin Eggs
How to Get Rid of Blue Jays Without Harming Them
You can’t lawfully kill or harm blue jays, because they are migratory birds protected by national-level laws in the US and Canada.
But there are things you can do to keep blue jays under control.
The first method we recommend will get rid of blue jays without interfering with your hummingbird feeders.
Avoid Putting Out Food on Flat Surfaces
Blue jays like to eat nuts and seeds that they find on flat surfaces.
If you ordinarily leave seed out for sparrows, juncos, buntings, cardinals, and grosbeaks, take a break from feeding those birds from your flat-bed feeder so you don’t attract too many blue jays.
It also helps to pick up any nuts or fruit that fall to the ground.
If you feed deer by throwing corn on the ground, feed them at a distance of at least 100 feet (30 meters) from the area where you are trying to discourage Blue jays.
If you have dogs and cats, feed them inside. Or if you are leaving out food for feral cats, at least put their bowl under some kind of shelter that blocks the view from above.
Blue jays love dry pet food and will occasionally sample wet pet food, too.
Keep Your Yard Neat and Clean
We don’t usually think of blue jays as vicious carnivores, but they get a large part of the protein in their diet by eating small animals.
Mice, shrews, young rats, young gophers, and just-hatched snakes and lizards are all hunted by blue jays.
Keeping the number of small animals in your yard to a minimum deprives blue jays of their hunting ground. This encourages them to move somewhere else.
You minimize the number of rodents in your backyard by:
- Keep your grass mowed short. Mice and rats can build nests in tall, dry grass, so don’t let your grass get tall. Keep your entire lawn mowed.
- Make sure all of your garbage cans have tight-fitting lids, and everyone in the family keeps them closed. Rodents feed on garbage. So do the opossums and raccoons that have babies that may be attacked by blue jays. Don’t get blue jays the opportunity to attack other animals.
- Keep your yard free of dead bugs, dead animals, and food scraps.
Use a Weight-Activated Bird Seed Feeder
You don’t have to give up feeding small songbirds to keep from feeding blue jays. You just need to switch to a weight-activated bird seed feeder.
Weight-activated bird feeders snap shut when a heavier bird, like a blue jay, lights to attempt to feed on a seed, a dried mealworm, or suet.
But you need to be sure to clean up any spills every day, so blue jays won’t just feed on the ground beneath the feeder.
Chase the Blue Jays Away with a Kitty Laser
Blue jays don’t like to have laser light shining into their eyes.
About 50 percent of blue jays will fly away when you repel them with a laser pointer.
Be sure you use a laser pointer that generates less than 5 milliwatts of power. Don’t point a laser indiscriminately up into the sky.
You do not want to be the person who blinds a pilot. Also, avoid pointing a laser at police or neighbors. This can make them quite alarmed.
Protect Nesting Birds
You can keep blue jays from taking over the nests of other kinds of birds that build nests in your birdhouses.
Make sure that the entrance to the birdhouse is at least 6 inches (15 cm) above the floor of the birdhouse.
That way, the blue jay cannot reach down to disturb the eggs or the chicks when the parents are away.
Make sure the opening to the birdhouse is too small for a blue jay to pass through.
The entryway should be 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ (no more than 3 cm, preferably a little less), large enough for chickadees, warblers, and wrens, but too small for blue jays (and many other birds).
Use Noise Deterrents, But Not Too Often
Blue jays can hear distress calls that are above the range of human hearing. (Your dog or cat may be able to hear them, however.)
You can buy bird-repellent devices that recreate these sounds on a regular basis.
Birds that hear them will assume a predator is nearby and stay out of your backyard.
However, if you operate this kind of bird repellent continuously, they will eventually realize that your backyard is actually safe for them.
Let Your Dog Patrol Your Backyard
Certain kinds of dogs, like setters, springers, spaniels, and poodles, were bred for bird hunting.
They are great at keeping birds at bay in your backyard (although a blue jay may drop nuts and fruit on them to chase them off).
Big dogs, like Newfoundlands and Great Danes, however, often make friends with these boisterous birds.
Three Things to Keep in Mind About Anything You Do to Control Bluejays
The best time of day to use any deterrent method to get rid of blue jays is after sundown but before dark.
Blue jays look for a place to roost for the night when the sun goes down.
They look for places where they won’t be disturbed—so disturb them! Get them in the habit of spending the night somewhere else.
Begin using bird deterrent methods in the early spring. Blue jays send out scouts to look for good summer breeding grounds.
You don’t want them to decide your backyard would be an ideal habitat for large numbers of blue jays.
And be sure to remove blue jay nests that are no longer occupied. (In the US, UK, and Canada, it is illegal to disturb the nest of a blue jay while they are still using it.)
Blue jays don’t like to nest in boxes. They prefer open spaces.
If you find an abandoned blue jay’s used nest under an eave or on a large limb in a dead tree, put on gloves and remove it.
Destroy it by putting it in the trash. Force the blue jays to rebuild their next nest somewhere else.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blue Jay Temperament
Q. Are blue jays sneaky?
A. Blue jays are the first animals that scientists have shown to have the capacity to be dishonest with other animals when it gets them food.
Scientists have found that blue jays will give each other valid information about large food sources but will mislead other blue jays when only a small amount of food is involved.
Q. Are blue jays more aggressive in some yards than in others?
A. The closer your yard is to a powerline, the more aggressive blue jays will be to other birds in your yard.
This is probably because they can use the powerline as a perch to look for baby birds and nest with eggs.
Q. Are there any plants I can put out that discourage blue jays from harming other birds?
A. Scientists have discovered that plants with smaller leaves force blue birds to look for a single kind of prey.
If you place your hummingbird feeder next to a shrub with very small leaves, fewer blue jays will find the birds than if you placed it under a tree with big leaves.
Q. Do some blue jays become killers?
A. Yes. Scientists at the University of Nebraska discovered that blue jays become increasingly aware of a particular kind of prey after each successful attack.
Once a blue jay discovers that hummingbirds are tasty, for example, it will want more.
You cannot legally, however, kill blue jays to save other birds. You have to use deterrent methods to try to get them to leave.
Q. Are blue jays mean to each other?
A. Blue jays tend to cooperate with other blue jays. They fight predators together.
They find food together. Male blue jays scout out new nesting sites in the early spring for an entire flock of blue jays.
But they are aggressive toward other kinds of birds, both big and small.
Q. Are there other animals that are aggressive toward blue jays?
A. Eastern gray squirrels will get into fights with blue jays over seeds and nuts.
Blue jays also face opposition from scrub jays. grackles, and woodpeckers, which have similar diets.
Q. Are blue jays mean to hummingbirds?
A. A blue jay may eat a baby hummingbird or a hummingbird egg as a quick snack.
They don’t usually eat adult hummingbirds (although owls and hawks do).
Q. What time of day are blue jays meanest?
A. Blue jays are aggressive toward other birds all day until the sun goes down.
After sundown, they are too busy looking for a place to roost overnight to be aggressive to other birds that are not aggressive to them.
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