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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wild Scrub Jay brings present of thanks?

Another scrub jay has been visiting Blue and me for about six months. It took about a month to get this bird to take a peanut from my hand, then eventually off my head. She became comfortable enough to sit on me until she got two peanuts stuffed in her beak, which could take some time. Often she would just sit and watch me. During the winter she came every day, always in the morning and then often in the evening as well. Then we got Blue to hand her peanuts. We call her Mama bird. Kate was able to hold Blue up with a peanut in his beak and hand it off to the other Scrub three times now. Just as we were getting closer to the bird, and spring was not far off, she disappeared as quickly as she first arrived.

I assume she now has a nest with eggs or chicks. She returned a little more in a hurry then before and not as comfortable as she had been with me. She takes a peanut and leaves for about ten minutes. It used to be 1 min. This is another reason I think she has a nest. She is not hiding these nuts or eating them right away as she often would. She would take a peanut and hide it ten feet away in the ivy, then when she returned to get another while a squirrel would steal the first one. All the while as this repeats, the Scrub is unaware. So are they smart and gullible? No, this instinct is purposeful. The fact that Scrub Jays forget and otherwise loose something like 70% of the nuts they actually eat, they not only feed the squirrels and other animals, but also repopulate the forest.

Yesterday, she came and ate, taking peanuts from my hand. I noticed when she saw me she squawked, and then something happened I will never forget. I see mama bird coming towards the house with something in her beak. She places it at the foot of the sliding glass window to the backyard, right where Blues cage is, it was a dead lizard. On her way out she grabbed a peanut but not before giving us another squawk goodbye.

Everyone who has owned outside cats have found a dead animal present left for them, so this is nothing new to the pet kingdom, but certainly odd for a wild Scrub Jay. I am not sure if this present was intended for Blue or me. However, I think it gave us food because we give it food. Was this a trade – a thank you – a token of… I do not know. This is another reason I have no doubt that these birds plan. How they perceive time, I do not think we will ever know despite all the hubbub about the three day test. Mama bird had a reason for giving us the food.

Just to add to the strange day, Kate witnessed a paid of ducks flying low early in the morning, just as the sun was rising. One crashed into the carport head on. Its mate landed and watched over the stunned bird, which was OK after a rest, and flew away. Most stunned birds will be fine, if left in a quit spot for 5 – 10 minutes -- even after hitting a window. We have had five stunned birds brought to us from kids who live near by. Unable to move, we put them in a dimly lighted or even dark padded box for a few minutes, and they all sprung back to life. Not one died.

If other bird lovers out there have witnessed or experienced a Scrub Jay give food to person, or possibly another bird, please tell me about it – or any other unique behavior of these birds.

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