How to Make a Blue Jay Feeder?

As a bird enthusiast, I’m always seeking ways to bring nature’s wonders closer to my backyard. Among the myriad of birds I’ve encountered, the Blue Jay has been one of my favorites due to its vibrant colors and charming character. Making a feeder for these delightful creatures is not only a fun project, but it’s also a way to aid in their survival, especially during the winter months.

Blue Jays are known for their love for seeds, nuts, and fruits, which can be conveniently offered to them through a homemade feeder. This feeder, easy to construct with readily available materials, attracts these birds to your yard, creating a lively atmosphere. It also offers them a safe haven to enjoy their meals.

Engaging in bird feeding activities such as building your own Blue Jay feeder is both rewarding and relaxing. It is an opportunity to actively contribute to wildlife preservation and to observe the fascinating behavior of these birds up close.

Why Feed Blue Jays?

Blue Jays, with their vibrant blue feathers and engaging behavior, are indeed captivating birds. Feeding them isn’t merely a pastime; it’s a way to assist these exquisite creatures in their survival, particularly during challenging seasons. Their diet is diverse, ranging from insects and seeds to fruits and nuts. Providing them with supplementary food sources can help them maintain their nutritional needs and ensure their healthy existence.

Moreover, feeding Blue Jays is advantageous for your local ecosystem. They’re exceptional seed dispersers. Their habit of burying food for later use, especially acorns, results in new plant growth, helping forests regenerate and thrive. Their predilection for insects and small rodents also aids in natural pest control. By feeding Blue Jays, you’re contributing positively to your backyard’s ecology.

What Attracts Blue Jays?

Understanding what attracts Blue Jays is key to making your feeder a frequented spot for these birds. Blue Jays are primarily attracted to food and comfortable feeding conditions. Their favorite treats include sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cracked corn, all of which are perfect for a feeder. These birds are also partial to mealworms and fruit, which can be occasional surprises to keep them coming back.

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As for feeders, Blue Jays prefer spacious platforms or tray feeders with sturdy standing areas. They’re cautious birds and need to feel secure while eating. A feeder with a rough surface for good grip and surrounded by trees or shrubs for a quick escape from predators will definitely entice them. Adding a water source nearby will further make your backyard attractive to these birds.

Blue jay eating

Materials Required

List of Essential Materials

Creating a Blue Jay feeder is an enjoyable DIY project that requires minimal supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A flat wooden board or an old tray for the base
  • A dowel rod or a sturdy branch for the stand
  • A drill and screws for assembly
  • A weather-resistant paint to add a pop of color, although this is optional

It’s important to use untreated wood to ensure the safety of the birds. All these materials can be easily found in a local hardware store, or you might already have them in your garage.

Picking the Right Feeder

Blue Jays are large birds and hence prefer feeders that offer ample space. A platform or tray feeder is ideal as it provides enough room for these birds to comfortably land and eat. These feeders are typically open, enabling the birds to approach from any direction and quickly fly off if threatened, making them feel safe.

Considering a feeder with a roof can be beneficial as it shields the birds and the food from the elements. It helps keep the food dry during rainy days and provides shade during hot summer days. However, ensure that the roof is high enough to allow the Blue Jays easy access.

Step by Step Guide to Making a Blue Jay Feeder

Selecting the Location

Before you start building the feeder, deciding where to place it is crucial. Blue Jays prefer quiet spots with a good view of the surroundings to watch out for predators. A location near shrubs or trees provides them with a safe retreat. However, avoid placing the feeder too close to dense foliage where cats and other predators can hide. Also, consider your viewing pleasure and position the feeder where you can easily watch the birds from a window.

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Assembling the Feeder

To start with, ensure your wooden board or tray is clean and dry. If you’ve chosen to paint your feeder, do so first and let it dry completely. Make sure to use a non-toxic, bird-safe paint.

Next, fix the dowel rod or branch to the center of the board. This will act as the stand where Blue Jays can perch. You can drill a hole in the board and insert the dowel rod, securing it with screws. If you’re using a branch, ensure it has a few offshoots where the birds can comfortably sit.

If you’ve chosen to add a roof to your feeder, cut another piece of wood slightly larger than the base. Secure this to the top of the dowel rod, ensuring it is high enough to allow easy access to the birds but close enough to protect the food from weather conditions.

Properly Mounting the Feeder

Once your feeder is assembled, it’s time to mount it. You can hang it from a branch using a sturdy rope or directly mount it on a tree trunk or a post. Ensure it is stable and doesn’t wobble, as this could scare off the Blue Jays. Also, place it at a height where it’s out of reach from ground predators.

What to Feed Blue Jays?

Preferred Foods

As I mentioned earlier, Blue Jays have a diverse diet. But they particularly love sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cracked corn. These should be your mainstays. You can also occasionally add small pieces of fruit, suet, and mealworms for a nice change. This will provide a balanced diet and ensure they keep visiting your feeder.

Foods to Avoid

It’s equally important to know what not to feed Blue Jays. Avoid any food that is salty or contains artificial sweeteners or flavors. Also, bread, although a popular choice for many bird feeders, doesn’t offer much nutritional value and can harm the bird’s health if fed regularly.

Maintaining Your Blue Jay Feeder

Regular Cleaning

Maintaining the cleanliness of your feeder is crucial for the health of the Blue Jays. Bird feeders can become a breeding ground for bacteria and molds if not cleaned regularly. It’s recommended to clean the feeder with a mild bleach solution every two weeks and let it dry completely before refilling it.

Monitoring the Feeder

Keeping a close eye on your feeder will help you understand the Blue Jays’ feeding habits and preferences. It’s also important to notice if the food is being eaten or going bad. If the food is untouched for a long time, it’s probably time to change it. Monitoring also helps in detecting any signs of disease or distress among the visiting birds.

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Common Mistakes to Avoid

Improper Placement

Location is key for a bird feeder. Placing it too close to windows can lead to birds hitting the glass, while putting it in high traffic areas can scare them away. Choose a quiet, safe spot for your feeder.

Ignoring Predators

Bird feeders can attract unwanted guests like squirrels and predators. If you notice this, take necessary precautions. You can use squirrel-proof feeders or install a baffle to keep them at bay. Keep a close eye for predators like cats and take measures to make the area safe.

Infrequent Cleaning

As I stressed earlier, a clean feeder is a healthy feeder. Neglecting to clean your feeder can cause the food to mold and potentially make the birds sick. Regular cleaning is a must.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I feed Blue Jays birdseed?

Yes, Blue Jays love birdseed, especially sunflower seeds and peanuts. However, remember to provide a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet.

How often should I refill the feeder?

This depends on how many birds are visiting your feeder. If it’s frequented often, you might need to refill it daily. However, avoid overfilling it as leftover food can spoil.

Are Blue Jays aggressive towards other birds?

Blue Jays can be territorial and sometimes chase away smaller birds. If this becomes a problem, consider setting up separate feeders for different bird species.

Conclusion

Creating a Blue Jay feeder is more than just a DIY project; it’s a wonderful opportunity to interact closely with nature right in your backyard. The joy of watching these vibrant birds frolicking around the feeder you’ve created is truly unmatched.

Moreover, providing a reliable food source for Blue Jays, particularly during harsh weather conditions, is a significant contribution towards their survival. It also plays a part in preserving biodiversity as these birds play a crucial role in seed dispersal.

Finally, it’s not just about making the feeder but also about maintaining it. Regular cleaning, timely refills with appropriate food, and vigilant monitoring are key to keeping your feathered guests healthy and happy. Remember, a lively backyard with chirping birds is a reward in itself. Enjoy the process and cherish the experience.

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