Yes, blue jays eat hummingbirds. They are known to routinely raid the nests of hummingbirds and eat the eggs or young hummingbirds.
It is easier for jays to target the hummingbird nest and its contents rather than try to target the adult hummingbird. However, jays have been seen chasing and occasionally catching and eating adult hummingbirds too.
Hummingbirds are known to listen out for calls of predators such as blue jays and will modify their behavior to help keep themselves safe when predators are around.
Do Blue Jays Eat Hummingbird Eggs?
Yes, blue jays have a reputation for raiding the nests of hummingbirds.
Blue jays, crows, squirrels, chipmunks, and roadrunners will all eat the eggs or chicks from hummingbird nests whenever they have the chance.
All kinds of nests are vulnerable to attacks from these predators.
How Hummingbirds Reduce Nest Raids
As predation on hummingbird nests is a major cause of nest failure, there are some things hummingbirds do to try to counteract this.
First of all, their nests are small and well camouflaged to help keep them hidden from predators.
Secondly, if a hummingbird feels threatened or their nest has been raided they will abandon the nest site and find another spot.
If the nest spot is successful they will return to the same area to nest again and again. As the nests are small and fragile, each nest is only used for a single breeding season.
Lastly, they use larger predators to their advantage.
A 2008 study found that when Black-Chinned Hummingbirds nest close to active hawk nests they had much greater nest success.
These hummingbirds experienced a significantly higher probability (46% vs 9%) of successful fledglings when nesting within 300 m of Accipiter nests.
What Do Blue Jays Eat?
Blue jays are omnivorous and eat many different foods including acorns, seeds, corn, grains, fruits, small invertebrates, and occasionally eggs and chicks from nests.
The bulk (75.7%) of a blue jays diet is plant matter including acorns and seeds. The remaining 24.3% is animal matter which was found to be over 90% insects and spiders rather than smaller birds or eggs.
This demonstrates that eating hummingbirds and raiding their nests is relatively rare for blue jays.
What Eats Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds have a number of natural predators including small hawks, American Kestrels, owls, blue jays, snakes, raccoons, opossums, praying mantis’ and large spiders.
Feral and domestic cats are thought to be a non-nested hummingbird’s most common predator.
This is not an exhaustive list as the small size of hummingbirds put them at risk from a wide range of animals and insects that are larger than them.
Hummingbird Defense Mechanisms
Hummingbirds are frequently targeted by predators. Fortunately, they have a number of natural defense mechanisms that help them survive:
Hummingbirds manage to avoid predators by being small in size and impressively fast. Their agile movements make them a difficult target.
The plumage of hummingbirds helps to camouflage them making them difficult to see.
Detaching Tail Feathers
If a hummingbird does get caught by a predator they can detach their tail feathers to give them a chance to escape.
Finally, hummingbirds are fierce and will defend themselves and their territory when needed. Despite their small size, hummingbirds are able to fend off larger birds from their territory.