Across the Central and Eastern United states, pretty much every backyard will at some time or another have resident blue jays in it.
These large and vividly colored songbirds are among the most vocal, both in the variety of calls that they make and the sheer volume of their calls.
Known for their quarrelsome behavior near food sources, blue jays definitely don’t have attitudes to fit their beautiful plumage.
There have even been instances where blue jays seem to attack people. Could it be true that blue jays are dangerous?
No, blue jays are not truly dangerous, though they will attack people that are in their territory, particularly when they are near their nest.
Blue jays might drive off other songbirds from food sources, and drive you half-mad from their incessant screaming, but unless you get too close to their nest you should not have much to worry about.
You can learn more about blue jay behavior and the (minimal) threat they pose to humans in this article.
Understanding Blue Jay Behavior
Blue jays belong to the family Corvidae, which also includes crows, ravens, magpies and rooks. Like most of their many kin, these birds are intelligent, inquisitive and highly assertive.
Studies have shown that blue jays, in particular, are able to remember the location of food sources and will often return to these same sources day after day, even going so far as to hide food from competitors.
This means that they can become very protective of their food, especially when it’s one they like best or the only one around.
It’s not uncommon for blue jays to aggressively defend food sources from other animals, including other birds and even small mammals like squirrels.
While this behavior is mostly seen during the winter months, when food is scarcer, it can happen at any time of year.
In some cases, blue jays will even attack people who come too close to their food supply.
While blue jays are not known for being particularly dangerous to humans, their aggressive behavior can be a nuisance.
More than one unlucky child and plenty of adults have felt the sharp whack of the blue jay’s beak after straying too close to its nest.
Though hardly a true threat, it is certainly annoying and among all the songbirds that might visit your yard and your bird feeders blue jays are more likely than most to make themselves a menace.
Are Blue Jays Aggressive Toward Humans?
Sometimes. Compared to most birds, and particularly birds of their size, blue jays are more likely to make a pass at people for a variety of reasons.
Have Blue Jays Ever Attacked Humans?
Yes, and fairly regularly compared to most other songbirds. These attacks are rarely of any consequence and so seldom, if ever, make the news except as a humorous anecdote.
How Do Blue Jays Attack?
Blue jays attack by flogging and pecking. Sometimes prior to a direct attack they will engage in dive bombing or swooping behavior, along with shrill, piercing alarm calls.
Blue jays might try to swat at an interloper with their wings in an effort to confuse them or drive them off, but will invariably resort to sharp pecks with their beaks.
The blue jay’s greater size and long, straight beak means that they might draw blood with a good peck, so it will definitely hurt if they get you. Despite this, wounds on humans are rarely anything more than superficial.
What Causes Blue Jay Aggression?
Blue Jays will typically only attack people for one of two reasons, and both of them are easy to understand.
Occasionally, humans that intrude upon a preferred or rare food source for blue jays will be subjected to mobbing, pecking and other antagonistic behavior in an effort to drive them off.
This is also the same thing that blue jays do to other birds and animals that come too close to their food!
The other instance that is far more likely to result in sustained aggression is intruding upon their nesting area, and in some cases this is just standing beneath the tree that their nest is located in, particularly if the nest is on lower branches.
Blue jays will scream out, swoop and dive, and relentlessly peck at any humans who foolishly or ignorantly come too close.
Do Blue Jays Eat People?
No, blue jays do not eat people! Even though they do eat some meat in the form of tiny mammals and other birds occasionally, humans are much too big for blue jays to prey upon.
Are Blue Jays Territorial?
Yes! Blue jays will vigorously defend food sources, home trees and nesting areas from predators and interlopers alike when it suits them. Not even humans and other large mammals are safe from their attention!
How Strong is a Blue Jay?
Not very. Despite their remarkable characteristics and attitudes for songbirds, blue jays are still just tiny birds.
They might be some of the most aggressive and unruly songbirds on the block, but this counts as nothing against the strength of a human.
What Should You Do if You See a Blue Jay?
If you see a blue jay, you really don’t need to do anything unless it is harassing you. You can admire their beautiful plumage and graceful flight as they flit about through your yard.
However, if you should spot a blue jay nesting in a nearby tree, make a note of it and give that tree a wide berth unless you want a knot on your head!
What Should You Do if Attacked by a Blue Jay?
The smartest thing to do if you’re attacked by a blue jay is simply to leave. Once you get enough distance from its food source or nest it should leave you alone, even though it is going to screech about it the entire time and for some time afterwards.
Protect your head and eyes, as blue jays will typically target the head of larger mammals when attacking.
Do Blue Jays Carry Diseases People Can Catch?
Not typically. However, blue Jays might be host to parasites like mites, fleas and ticks which could potentially infest human beings or pets, resulting in diseases and other health problems.
Generally you don’t need to worry about any such thing unless you are handling a blue jay for whatever reason or the corpse of a blue jay.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.