Bird Feeder Hub is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

What Do Baby Blue Jays Eat?

 Updated by Melanie Cruff on 02-06-2024

Blue jays are an easily recognizable, perhaps even iconic, songbird. Their large size, blue feathers, and distinctive call mean that just about anyone can recognize a blue jay. Adults can often be seen eating acorns, and are drawn to feeders full of things like peanuts and sunflower seeds. But clearly a baby can’t manage a whole peanut! Let’s look at what adult blue jays are bringing back to their nest to feed their babies, and learn some other baby blue jay facts. 

What Do Baby Blue Jays Eat?

As with most birds, baby blue jays eat more or less the same things that their parents eat. Adult blue jays bring nuts, seeds and insects and back to the nest for their chicks. For at least six weeks after hatching, the chicks are totally dependent on their parents to bring them food, and the parents bring whatever they can find.

Do Baby Blue Jays Eat Worms?

If their parents bring them a worm, they’ll eat it. Caterpillars and seeds are probably more common, but earthworms certainly make their way into many baby blue jay’s diets. Worms are a little hard to find, since they’re usually underground, but occasionally a heavy rain or human activity brings a bunch of worms to the surface, and the blue jays will definitely go after them. The parents must also take size into consideration, very young nestlings often cannot yet eat large earthworms. 

Juvenile Blue Jay

How to Feed Baby Blue Jays

If you need to feed a baby blue jay, use either moist dog/cat food or commercially sold baby bird food, fed through an eye dropper. However in general you should not attempt to do this yourself, and we will talk about why below. 

If you’ve found a nest with baby blue jays you suspect is abandoned, don’t jump to any quick conclusions. In most cases of a nest with begging babies, the adults are nearby finding food and will come back periodically to feed the young. Male and female blue jays both take turns feeding the young, however it has been observed that males may often do the majority of the feeding. 

Some feedings can be very quick, and the adults will only stop by for a minute before leaving to find food again. Because you could easily miss this quick process, you would have to watch a nest non-stop (not a few minutes at a time) for at least a few hours before you could determine if the babies have potentially been abandoned. If you suspect the baby has fallen from the nest, place it back in the nest or as close to the nest as you can. The parents will still come and feed the baby. In many cases once they are old enough, fledglings will hop out of the nest but stay close by because they can’t fly well yet. As long as they are tucked away in some bushes they will be fine and the parents will come by to feed them. 

Contacting a Wildlife Rehab Expert

If you have determined that the baby blue jays do need help, it is important to contact a qualified bird rehabber. In many states, only certified rehab specialists are allowed to be in possession of wild birds. Not to mention they are trained in exactly how to care for them. 

Care of baby birds can be very tricky. Many nestlings need to be fed every 20 minutes or so for 12 to 14 hours a day! That is a lot of constant time and attention. They also need balanced food with enough protein and nutrients to grow properly. This is why the knowledge and expertise of a rehabber is their best bet for survival. 

If you get in touch with a rehabber that isn’t able to take the birds right away, they may instruct you on how to care for them until they can pick them up. For the short term, dog or cat food (moist, fed through a dropper), or specialty baby bird food mix, is often used.

To find a rehabber near you, Google search the name of your state plus “wildlife rehabilitation”, or check your states department of the environment page for a list of licensed rehabbers.

Blue Jay Nests

Both parents will gather materials and work on the nest, but in general males do more of the gathering while females take on more of the construction. Blue Jays like to nest in thick outer branches or where a branch meets the trunk, about 10-25 feet up. Deciduous or evergreen trees are both used, and they rarely use nest in shrubs or man-made structures. Their nest is a bulky, somewhat conical cup, made mostly of twigs with some grasses. Mud is sometimes used to help hold things together, and rootlets are used for the inner lining. Nests typically have an outer diameter of 17 – 21 centimeters, and inner diameter of 8.5 – 10.5 centimeters, and a depth of 6 centimeters. 

Blue Jays tend to have only one brood of young per year. Between 2-7 eggs are laid, and the color of the eggs can vary from pale blue to light brown. Eggs have reddish or brownish speckles that are usually heaviest on the larger end of the egg. The female will do all the incubating, and it takes about 18 days before the eggs begin to hatch. While she is sitting on the eggs, her mate will bring her food. 

blue jay nest
Blue Jay Eggs | image by Jeff the quiet via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Young Blue Jays

After the babies have hatched, the female will stay with them for the first 8-12 days to provide warmth and protection, while the male does all the food gathering. After that, when the babies are older and are able to be left alone longer, the female will join the male in gathering food. Some of the youngsters start to wander away from the nest before officially fledging, which happens at about 21 days. Young blue jays tend to all leave the nest at the same time, and will continue to be brought food by their parents for 1-2 months. 

Do Blue Jays Like Acorns?

Acorns are a favorite food of blue jays, although they’re a bit too big for the babies to eat. That’s fine, since by the time acorns are available in the fall the babies will have left the nest and grown to adult size. Acorns are a favorite for blue jays, and many adult birds will cache hundreds of them to save for the winter by storing them in tree cavities or burying them in the ground.

In fact, blue jays are credited with spreading oak forests across the U.S. While they remember where they put most of those acorns, they always forget some of them, which means that each blue jay ends up planting a bunch of oak trees every fall.


Baby blue jays eat just about anything their parents bring them. Mostly, that means seeds, nuts, and insects. If you find yourself caring for baby blue jays that have been abandoned while waiting for help from a rehabber, pet food or commercially sold baby bird food will help to meet their nutritional needs.