Blue jays love peanuts in the shell

Blue jays love to eat peanuts.  The peanuts need to be in the shell.  Peanuts are a secret weapon for attracting blue jays. 

Many sites say that peanuts will attract a variety of different birds beside blue jays, including nuthatches, sparrows and even cardinals.  This is bunk.  Put up a flat platform feeder, lay out peanuts in the shell on the feeder and you will get blue jays.

This flat feeder has been in place in Toronto Canada for 18 months.  In that time, it has attracted hundreds of blue jays.  I have seen other birds use this flat feeder as a perch.  No bird other than jays have eaten nuts off this feeder.  Not once.

Jays don’t stay long when they eat peanuts.  They will perch on the edge of the feeder and sort through the peanuts looking for a good one.  Then they will grab the peanut in their beak and fly away.

Jays will fly high up in a tree to eat their peanut.  They use a foot to hold the peanut steady then they pick through the shell with their beak to get at the peanut inside the shell.  Occasionally the blue jay will sit on the feeder, select a peanut in the shell, then swallow it whole.  This looks like a magic trick the first time you see it.  It just doesn’t seem possible that the peanut can fit in the jay’s beak.  But it will.

If you put peanuts out regularly, the blue jays will alert their friends.  Occasionally the blue jays will congregate two, three, or four birds at a time on the feeder to get nuts.  This is not their preferred mode of eating peanuts.  Generally, the jays will perch within 50-100 ft of the birdfeeder and wait for the feeder to be unattended.  Then the blue jay will swoop in, select a peanut, them fly away.  When feeding activity is heavy, this can give the blue jay feeder the appearance of a mini airport.  Jays will swoop in, spaced by 20 second intervals to pick up their peanut.

Blue jay activity is seasonal.  At least in our neighbourhood, fall is the high season for blue jays.  Spring has good blue jay activity, followed by summer then winter.  We get few jays at our feeder in the winter.   Our friend in a farming community 80 km away north of Orangeville has different seasonality for jays.  Their high season for jays is winter, particularly when there is snow cover on the ground.  So, your mileage may vary when it comes to blue jay seasonality.  But I guarantee you will get blue jays if you put out peanuts in the shell for them!