WESTERN SCRUB-JAY

scrub jay 4x3

 

The Scrub-Jay is a habituate of dry shrub-lands and oak woodlands.  That’s why they are usually seen in the oak savanna of the refuge. It ranges from Washington down to the California Central Valley and to Texas. Scrub-Jays are non-migratory. They frequent backyards and parks and are comfortable around people.

Scrub-Jays are omnivorous. According to Cornell Ornithology Lab:

Western Scrub-Jays eat mostly insects and fruit during spring and summer, and switch to nuts and seeds during fall and winter. They eat small animals such as lizards and nestling birds, sometimes shadowing adult birds to find their nests. For plant material, scrub-jays eat acorns, pine nuts, juniper berries, and grass seeds; sunflower seeds and peanuts at feeders; as well as cultivated corn, almonds, walnuts, and cherries.

They are interesting to watch because they are very active and vocal. They hop and fly about boldly. During breeding they actively defend their nests. They steal acorns and nuts from other birds but hide their own. They may be seen eating parasites off of the backs of deer.

Scrub-Jays are smart. According to Wikipedia:

Western scrub jays, like many other corvids, exploit ephemeral surpluses by storing food in scattered caches within their territories. They rely on highly accurate and complex memories to recover the hidden caches, often after long periods of time.[3] In the process of collecting and storing this food, they have shown an ability to plan ahead in choosing cache sites to provide adequate food volume and variety for the future.[4] Western scrub jays are also able to rely on their accurate observational spatial memories to steal food from caches made by conspecifics. […] Recent research has suggested that western scrub jays, along with several other corvids, are among the most intelligent of animals. The brain-to-body mass ratio of adult scrub jays rivals that of chimpanzees and cetaceans, and is dwarfed only by that of humans. Scrub jays are also the only non-primate or non-dolphin shown to plan ahead for the future, which was previously thought of as a uniquely human trait.[7] Other studies have shown that they can remember locations of over 200 food caches, as well as the food item in each cache and its rate of decay.[8] Western scrub jays also summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour.

 

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