Blue Jays are attractive birds popular for their bright blue color and can be easily recognized due to their beautiful appearance and quirky voice. These birds have large feathers and are found in the United States, typically in the easter and central regions.
The adult blue jays are often seen raiding the nest of other birds for food and are observed cracking and crushing seeds and nuts. But what do baby blue jays eat?
Blue jays are omnivores and consume around 75% of vegetables and plants and about 25% of insects and meat. Baby blue jays have almost the same diet as adults. They depend on their parents for the food and eat their leftovers or whatever has been brought for them. Occasionally, the food for the babies is often brought by other nests.
These birds carry various matters of their leftover food to the nest to feed their babies. Let’s dig a little deeper to know what do baby blue jays eat?
What is the Diet of Baby Blue Jays?
The diet of a baby blue jay mainly depends on the food their parents eat and feed them with. The adults store enough food for themselves and their babies for later, often more than the amount they can use or eat in the future. Here’s all you need to know about what food do adult jays bring for baby blue jays:
Plants: It is commonly known that most of the diet of blue jays is based on plants and vegetables from branches; they often collect dried herbs to eat. Hence, the babies are often fed by plants as part of their meal.
Insects: Blue jays hop from one branch to another in search of insects. They have the tendency to eat insects around 30% of their own body weight. The most common insect they eat and feed their babies is the caterpillars, while others include spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, arthropods, and gypsy moths.
Nuts: These birds are very fond of eating nuts, seeds, and soft grains. Blue jays have a good consumption of peanuts, black sunflower oilseeds, suet, or hazelnuts.
Fruits: The parents often look for fruits on trees to feed baby blue jays. They usually eat and bring rowan berries and blackberries for their babies.
Worms: One of the most favorite diets of the jays’ worms. They love to eat small food items with a soft texture; they can eat up to 100-150 worms in a day. However, earthworms are difficult to find as they live underground and only come to the surface during the rainy season or by human activities. Baby blue jays can not eat large worms, so only leftovers from adults are eaten.
Animals: Since blue jays are omnivores, they can also eat other animals such as mice, fish, frogs, lizards, or even bats. However, this is not a typical diet for blue jays, but they often intake it for their energy and feed a few leftovers to baby blue jays.
Taking care of the nestlings is tricky for the adults as baby blue jays need their feed frequently after every twenty minutes for around 12 to 14 hours per day. A balanced diet rich in proteins and nutrients is needed by the babies to grow quickly and properly.
Do Baby Blue Jays Also Eat Eggs?
It is commonly known that blue jays raid other birds’ nests to snatch their eggs for food and also eat nestlings. However, according to a study, not much evidence is found of blue jays to be nest raiders. A study on the diet of a blue jay looked at the contents of their stomach; the researchers suggested that only 1% of the egg and nestling remains were found inside the stomach. Hence, eggs are not a part of a baby blue jay’s diet, and their parents only consume a fraction of eggs or nestlings.
As blue jays are not big egg snatchers or nest raiders, their own nests are raided by big birds such as crows. They snatch the eggs of a blue jay and often kill or eat the baby blue jays. Since the adult’s diet merely contains eggs, they do not feed their babies with eggs or a nestling’s leftover.
Do Baby Blue Jays Eat Acorns?
Acorns are one of the most liked foods of blue jays. However, the size of acorns is big for the babies to eat, but by the time the acorn season arrives, baby blue jays leave the nest and are grown as an adult. The fall birds collect and hide around 3,000 to 5,000 acorns underground and save them for the winter season. Blue jays are known to spread oak forests in the United States and often forget some of the acorns in the ground, which results in several oak trees in the fall season.
How Do Blue Jays Gain Energy?
Blue jays have different sources of food to gain energy; one of the main sources is starches as they are rich in proteins and cover a large amount of food blue jays need. The starches are mostly found in fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds. Wild jays gain energy through starches by eating and grinding the seeds, which results in them gaining proteins. Starches increase the metabolism of wild blue jays. These birds also eat cellulose which is broken down to use glycerin as a source of energy.
How Long Do Baby Blue Jays Live in the Nest?
The nestling period of baby blue jays is for around 17 to 21 days. Since the babies are not born with feathers, the mothers stay with them for the initial 8 to 12 days to keep them warm and cozy. 3 weeks later, the adult female starts leaving the nest. Both parents leave the nest for the rest of the nestling period in search of food for the babies. Once a baby jay is ready to fly, it leaves the nest and is no longer dependent on the parents for food.
How to Feed an Abandoned Blue Jay Baby?
If you find a small, abandoned blue jay, you can feed them with pet food such as dog or cat food, or commercially available bird food. Dog food has the nutrients to provide energy to abandoned baby blue jays. Once they start becoming healthier, you can feed them peanuts, suet, seeds, or small amounts of berries as these food items contain protein and provide them energy. Since baby blue jays have small mouths, feed the et food with the help of an eyedropper. Their mouths are usually open to drink water, press or squeeze the food with your fingers, and gently place it into their mouth.
What to Do if You Happen to Find an Abandoned Blue Jay Baby?
It is unlikely of the parents to abandon their babies. However, take a small box and secure the bird in it, and place it on a safe spot in a tree far from the location it was found. Try to find a new nest as far as possible from the old one. If you observe the baby needs help, it is best to contact a wildlife rehab expert as they are professionally trained to take care of them. With their expertise and knowledge, rehabbers can help the baby blue jay to survive.
Blue jays are only found in North America and are rare in other regions. Their diet consists of various items ranging from fruits and nuts to worms and other small animals.
These omnivorous birds rely on a 3:1 ratio when it comes to plants vs. insects/ animals, and the babies are fed frequently by the mother bird with a protein-rich diet.