Blue jays are part of the same family as crows, ravens, and magpies. Though they look very different, they share the same intelligence and resourcefulness.
Their bright coloring also belies their forceful nature. Most wild animals will defend themselves, if necessary. But blue jays in particular have a reputation for being aggressive.
Blue jays are not naturally friendly to humans. They are territorial birds and will attack animals even larger than they are if they feel there’s a threat. However, you can bring blue jays to a backyard with a birdfeeder, and they won’t attack outright.
Blue Jays Are Aggressive Birds
Blue jays are territorial animals. This means they don’t like when other animals approach their nesting areas.
They live east of the Rocky Mountains in both Canada and the United States. They live in many types of forests but prefer the outer edge rather than the deep woods.
Blue jays also prefer areas with oak trees. They build their nests high above the ground, between 10 and 25 feet up. They build them in tree crotches or the outer edges of thicker branches.
Once they build their nest, blue jays will defend it rigorously. Their predators include squirrels, cats, and snakes.
Blue jays are also in danger of other corvids such as crows or even other jays. Many of these predators are larger than they are. Still, blue jays will attack with little hesitation.
They Fight For Food Sources
Their aggression extends to food sources as well.
A blue jay’s diet consists of 75% plant matter. When they do need protein, they prefer to eat acorns than eggs or nestlings. They will also eat from bird feeders and attempt to prevent other birds from doing the same.
Blue jays bully other birds away from common food sources such as feeders. A common tactic is to use vocalizations. Blue jays have a wide range of vocal calls and can even imitate hawks.
They’ll often use these imitation skills to scare other birds away from feeders. They also use it to scavenge food other birds catch first.
A blue jay will imitate a hawk, causing the other bird to drop or leave their prey as they scatter. This leaves the blue jay free to grab it instead.
Blue Jays Will Attack Humans, But Only If They Feel Threatened
A blue jay only averages a maximum size of 12 inches (30 centimeters) and a weight of just under four ounces (109 grams). Despite their small stature, they have little fear of other animals, including humans.
If a blue jay feels as though their territory is in danger, they will attack the threat no matter their size.
They won’t be alone, either. Blue jays mate for life, only finding a new mate after their first dies.
The responsibilities of parenting are also split between the mother and the father. Therefore, they will attack as a pair when necessary.
Even so, blue jays will often nest in residential areas. This is in part because it increases the chances of success for their nests.
Due to predation, only about half of a blue jay’s eggs will survive long enough to fledge. The common theory is that human activity keeps blue jay predators away.
You Can Attract Blue Jays With A Feeder
In addition to stealing from other birds, they’re more than happy to eat pet food that remains outside.
As long as you give them space from their nests, blue jays will leave you alone. The fact that they build their nests so high in the air makes this much easier.
They can add more color and birdsong to your backyard. Blue jays, as their name suggests, have vibrant blue hues and a wide variety of calls and songs.
They will also frequent clean birdbaths.
Blue jays have aggressive habits regarding their nestlings, their food, and their territories in general. They will attack in groups to fend off anything they perceive as a threat to any of these areas.
Even other birds feeding from a communal source such as a feeder aren’t safe. They will sometimes suffer bullying from jays. Blue jays will attack creatures much larger than they are. This includes hawks and other birds of prey, but also humans.
These birds do not have an instinctive friendliness towards humans. However, they tend to only attack if they feel like a human is a threat to their nests. By avoiding their nests and babies, you may also avoid blue jay attacks.
In fact, blue jays enjoy living near humans for the protection they provide. Blue jays can add color and song to a backyard with a birdfeeder, a clean birdbath, and a respectful distance.