7 Ways To Get Rid Of Blue Jays At Bird Feeders


Blue jays are hard to miss: not only do they have brilliant blue plumage that stands out against almost any background, but you’re also likely to find them crowding around your feeders in winter. 

Unfortunately, they’re real bullies and will keep other, smaller species away while they quickly clear out the food you’ve set out for winter birds.

While you may want to attract them for their looks, trying to keep feeders filled with them around can get to be a bit much.

That’s not to say that blue jays don’t have an important part to play in the winter feeding ecosystem.

Quite aside from their good looks, while they’re looking out for their fellow jays, their warning cries when a predator like a hawk or owl draws near will also alert smaller birds to the danger.

However, there are a few tricks that will help keep them away so that finches, sparrows, and other small birds can get their fill. In addition, you’ll end up saving lots of money on expensive birdseed!

1. Go With Food Blue Jays Don’t Like

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Start by evaluating the seeds that you’re providing for your feathered visitors. Unfortunately, the cheaper seed mixtures usually have a high proportion of the foods that blue jays love: corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.

The first step in discouraging blue jays is by switching to seeds that they turn their beaks up at. 

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Safflower seed and Nyjer seed, while more expensive, will still attract the winter songbirds that you love to see, but blue jays and other bully birds like cowbirds will stay away.

2. Install Caged Feeders

Blue jays are some of the bigger birds, especially in winter, so get some feeders that have barriers to keep large species out.

A simple cage around a feeder tube or platform will give small birds plenty of room to get in, while larger birds won’t be able to make it through the openings.

Bear in mind that feeders that shut out blue jays will also deter large birds like cardinals, so it’s a good idea to use a variety of feeders to attract all sizes of birds.

3. Weighted Perch Feeders Keep Blue Jays Out

Feeders marketed as squirrel-proof are another good way to protect seed supplies from blue jays.

Weighted perch feeders have a mechanism that shuts down access to the feeder ports when too heavy a creature tries to use the perches. It works well for squirrels, chipmunks, and bully birds like blue jays or mourning doves.

4. Put Up Tube Feeders

Many small birds like catbirds or finches are very happy eating from tube feeders, but it’s pretty well impossible for a blue jay to use one. 

Whether your tube feeders have a plastic body with perches too small for blue jays, or a metal mesh that small birds can cling to as they feed, they will keep the seeds inside safe from bigger birds.

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Since they’re often filled with Nyjer seeds that blue jays don’t like, feeders like this have a double layer of protection from being emptied out by blue jays.

5. Put A Garbage Can Under The Feeders

Even if you have purchased feeders that blue jays will not be able to use, your songbirds can be messy eaters, with seeds strewn on the ground beneath.

Since blue jays have no problem with feeding at ground level, you may find them congregating there to catch spills.

If they’re hanging around so close to these feeders, they could intimidate smaller birds and scare them away. To discourage them from doing that, place a garbage can directly below the feeder. 

Even if there’s seeds inside, blue jays will be very reluctant to fly into that enclosed space, so they won’t stick around for long.

6. Set Up A Separate Feeder For Blue Jays

If you don’t want to cast your neighborhood blue jays out into the cold completely, set up a feeder just for them!

Blue jays prefer peanuts, sunflowers, and corn, and you can keep them happy with a platform feeder or wreath feeder filled with these tasty treats. 

Peanuts still in the shell will slow down their consumption rate a bit, and cost less than shelled ones. 

They may end up fighting over their food with species such as cowbirds or mourning doves, but they aren’t at the same disadvantage as smaller birds in that situation.

7. Keep Blue Jays At A Distance 

It’s a good idea to set up the blue jay feeders at some distance from your songbird feeders.

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You will probably have your main feeders near the house, so put up the blue jay feeders near some shrubs along the edge of your property.

Just make sure to keep their feeders well-stocked so that they won’t start hanging around the others when they run out.

Find a spot where you can easily see the feeders from your house, however. That way you can keep an eye on when the feeders run low, as well as being able to enjoy the sight of these striking birds.

There’s a middle ground that you can find between letting all species fight it out for the same food in the same feeders, and cutting off access for birds like blue jays that tend to hog everything when given the chance.

Give them their own food in special feeders, and you should have no trouble keeping everyone happy through the cold winter months.

Get Our FREE Bird Feeder Cheat Sheet
Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
Download The FREE Cheat Sheet

James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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