Yes, blue jays occasionally attack hummingbirds. While attacks on adult hummingbirds are rare, blue jays have been known to raid hummingbird nests and eat the eggs or hatchlings.
Attacks on hummingbirds by blue jays are more likely to happen around feeders where hummingbirds are an easier target.
As attacks are rare, blue jays are not considered a significant threat to adult hummingbirds.
Keeping Blue Jays Away From Feeders
Blue jays and other predators can sometimes be seen around hummingbird feeders, particularly if the feeders are out in the open.
Blue jays have been seen chasing hummingbirds from feeders but it is quite rare for them to catch one as hummingbirds are small and exceptionally fast moving.
They are impressive at maneuvering as they can fly backwards, up, down, and sideways too.
Hummingbirds beat their wings incredibly quickly too, around 50 times per second for ruby-throated hummingbirds and up to 62 beats per minute for Rufous hummingbirds.
During a courtship dive, a male Anna’s hummingbird achieved the highest speed ever recorded for a vertebrate (relative to size). This agility makes hummingbirds a difficult target for predators.
Do Hummingbirds Avoid Blue Jays?
Yes, hummingbirds do avoid blue jays as they perceive them to be a risk. With that being said, hummingbirds are brave and they will defend themselves against larger birds when needed.
One study found that when ruby-throated hummingbirds heard recordings of blue jays, the foraging intensity of the hummingbirds reduced significantly.
This suggests that these hummingbirds consider blue jays as a predatory risk and hearing them is enough to make the hummingbirds modify their behavior to help counteract the risk.
Predation is not considered to be a significant contributor to the mortality of adult hummingbirds.
Despite this, hummingbirds exhibit behaviors that help them avoid predators.
These include reducing their energy intake or keeping away from better feeding opportunities when they don’t have a complete view of their surroundings.
The most significant threat blue jays pose to hummingbirds comes from nest predation.
Blue jays, along with crows, chipmunks, squirrels, and roadrunners, are known to eat hummingbird eggs and chicks from nests.
In one study, predation was found to be a major source of nest failure for hummingbirds with predation on eggs being responsible for more than 70% of the losses.
Hummingbirds usually lay 2 eggs and these are incubated for 2-3 weeks. The young fledge at around 3 weeks old.
4 Ways Hummingbirds Protect Their Nests
1. They Camouflage Them
As protection against predators, hummingbirds create heavily camouflaged nests using lichen, moss, and leaves.
2. They Keep Them Sheltered
Usually, hummingbirds will make their nests in thickly wooded areas and position the nest 5-10 feet above the ground.
3. They Position Them Carefully
Some hummingbirds also position their nests on smaller branches that would not hold the weight of larger predators.
Hummingbirds and their nests are tiny (the smallest hummingbird is just over 5.5 cm and weighs approximately 2 g, while the largest is around 20 cm long and weighs around 20 g), so a thin branch is all the hummingbird needs.
4. They Nest Close To Certain Predators
Interestingly, a recent study found that when black-chinned hummingbirds nested close to accipiter nests they had higher nest success.
Accipiters are raptors that prey on corvids such as blue jays (as well as other animals including rodents).
The prey of the accipiter is the same species that would predate the hummingbirds which is why these hummingbirds experienced reduced predation when near active accipiter nests.
Blue jays do sometimes attack and eat adult hummingbirds, but they are far more likely to raid the nests of hummingbirds for the eggs or chicks.